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Insanity * 

Inebriety. -^.^^^^^^ 




^^^,,,-~^ Digestive^ 


^^^^ Spinal. 



^ — -Mysteria, 



^^^^^^^'^ Ray -Fever, 

^^^^^..^ Asthenopia, 


^^^_,^ Sleeplessness, 


^^_,_^ Chorea. 





^^„,.~^SicJc- Headache. 
^^^_^Xervoiis Dyspepsia. 
















27 & 39 'West 33u Street 

Copyright bt 



Press of 
G. P, Putnam^i Sons 

New York 


This work is designed as a supplement to my 
lately publislied work on Neurasthenia (Nervous 

That work, though it appeared but one year ago, 
speedily passed to a second edition in this country, 
and has already been translated into German. It is 
just to infer that at last, after long delay, an audi- 
ence has been found for a scient ific discussion of 
this class of subjects. 

In the preface to Nervous Exhaustion it was 
stated that the chapter on the causes. was designedly 
omitted, inasmuch as a thorough elucidation of that 
side of the subject, in all its relations and depen- 
dencies, would be of so complex a character as to re- 
quire a special volume of itself. The present work 
is, therefore, to be regarded as a^ ch_apter jon causes 
for the treatise on Nervous Exhaustion, with these 
qualifications — that it embraces the whole domain 
of nerve sensitiveness and nerve susceptibility, that 
lead to the- more definite condition of nervous ex- 
haustion, and that it is of a more distinctly philo- 


sophical and popular character than that treatise, 
which was specially addressed to the professional 
and scientific reader. 

The various subjects discussed in this work have 
occupied my mind from the time when I first began 
to think ; in the form in which they now appear 
they represent not far from a quarter of a century 
of research and toil ; many of the sections having 
been so often re-written and re-cast, that they bear 
little resemblance to their original form. The criti- 
cism which will be given to the philosophy of this 
work has been to a considerable degree anticipated, 
since the researches, and generalizations based on the 
researches, have been published by me, in various 
ways, during the last fifteen years ; and most of them 
have been extensively published and republished in 
England and Grermany; and thus have repeatedly, 
and in various forms, received the attention of some 
of- the strongest critics of our generation. lieplies to 
these critics and improvements in the mode of state- 
ment inspired by their suggestions, will be found in 
the present volume. Among these criticisms, espe- 
cially noteworthy are those of the London Times, 
London 8j)ectator, and Saturday Review ; in Germanv 
there has been endorsement rather than criticism. 
Although the general philosophy of this work is, in 
substance, the same as that contained in my earlier 
writings on the same subject, yet, in details and 


illustrations, and in the arrangement and methods ol 
argumentation, very many additions have been made 
which are here published for the first time. Many 
of the distinctive thoughts of this work are found 
in my lecture on American ISTervousness given before 
the Medical and Sui'gical Society of Baltimore, and 
subsequently published in the ^Yirglnia Medical 
Journal, and in pamphlet form, and in papers on 
"English and American Physique," in the 'l^orth 
American Review, on " The Futui'e of the Ameri- 
can People," in the Atlantic Monthly and on " The 
Consolations of the Nervous," in Apjyleton^ s Jour- 
nal, and in a series of articles in the Tale College 
C our ant. More recently I lectured on the general 
subject before the Philosophical Society of Chicago. 

Some of the points have also been touched upon 
in a series of papers recently given through the 
New York Medical Record, in my paper on Writer's 
Cramp ; also in my work on '• Hay- Fever," and on 
" Neurasthenia " (Nervous Exhaustion), and in Beard 
and Eockwell's " Medical and Surgical Electricity." 
In a paper read before the British Medical Associa- 
tion, in Cork, 1879, and Cambridge in 1880, I also 
discussed the problems raised in this volume and 
the one that it supplements. 

Throughout this book references and foot notes 
are resorted to but occasionally, since to make the 
list of authorities of sources of facts complete 


would require anothor volume at least half the size 
of the present one. 

To those who are beginning the study of this 
interesting theme the following epitome of the 
philosophy of this work may be of assistance, as a 
preliminary to a detailed examination. 

First. Nervousness is strictly deficiency or lack 
of nerve-force. This condition, together with all 
the symptoms of diseases that are evolved froni it, 
has developed mainly within the nineteenth cen- 
tury, and is especially frequent and severe in the 
Northern and Eastern portions of the United States. 
Nervousness, in the sense here used, is to be distin- 
guished rigidly and systematically from simple ex- 
cess of emotion and from organic disease. 

Secondly. The chief and primary cause of this 
development and very rapid increase of nervousness 
is modern civilization, which is distinguished from 
the" ancient by these five characteristics : steani-_ 
power, the periodical press, the telegraph, the 
sciences, and the ment al acti vity of women. 

Civilization is the one constant factor without 
which there can be little or no nervousness, and under 
which in its modern form nervousness in its many va- 
rieties must arise inevitably. Among the sgcondary 
and tertiary causes of nervousness are, climate, institu- 
tions — civ il, political, an d religious, social and b usines s 
— personal habits, in dulgenc e of ap petites and p assions . 


Third. These secondary and tertiary causes are 
of themselves without power to induce nervousness, 
save when they supplement and are interwoven with 
the modern forms of ^civilization. 

Fourth. The sign and type of functional ner- 
vous diseases that are evolved out of this general 
nerve sensitiveness is, neurasthenia (nervous exhaus- 
tion), which is in cl ose and cons tant relation with 
such functional nerve maladies as certain physical 
forms of h ysteri a, h ay-fe ver, sick-headache, inebriety, 
and some phases of i nsanity ; is, indeed, a branch 
whence at early or later stages of growth these dis- 
eases may take their origin. 

Fifth. The greater prevalence of nervousness in 
America is a complex resultant of a number of in- 
fluences, the chief of which are dr yness of tl ie air, 
extremes of heat and cold, civil and religious liberty, 
and the great mental activit y made necessary and 
possible in a new and productive country under 
such climatic conditions. 

A new crop of diseases has sprung up in America, 
of which Great Britain until lately knew nothing, or 
but little. A class of functional diseases of the ner- 
vous system, now beginning to be known everywhere 
in civilization, seem to have first taken root under an 
American sky, whence their seed is being distributed. 

All this is modern, and originally American ; 
and no age, no country, and no form of civilization, 


not Greece, nor Kome, nor Spain, nor the I^etlier- 
lands, in the days of their glory, possessed such 
maladies. Of all the facts of modern sociology, this 
rise and growth of functional nervous disease in the 
V northern part of America is one of the most stu- 
pendous, complex, and suggestive ; to solve it iu 
all its interlacings, to unfold its mar^-ellous phe- 
nomena and trace them back to their sources and 
forward to their future developments, is to solve 
the problem of sociology itself. 

But although nervousness, and the functional 
nervous diseases derived from it, are most frequent 
in America, and were here first observed and first 
systematically studied, they are now and for some 
time have been, becoming more and more frequent 
in Europe. 

Sixth. Among the signs of American nervous- 
ness specially worthy of attention are the following: 
The nervous diathesis ; susceptibility to_stimulants 
and narcotics and various drugs, and consequent 
necessity of temperance ; increase of the^ nervous 
dis eases ine briety and neurasthenia (nervous exhaus- 
tion), hay-fever, neuralgia, nervous dyspepsia, as- 
tlienopia and allie d dise ases and symptoms ; earlv 
and rapid decay of teeth ; premature Ijaiduess ; sen- 
sit^'eness tojjojd and heat ; increase of diseases not 
exclusively jrervous, as diabetes__and certain forms 
of Bright's disoase_of the kid.neys and chronic ca- 


tarrlis; unprecedented b eau t y of ^ IPsricaii wonig a.; 
frequency of^ran ce and muscle-readin g ; t he strain 
of _ ^dentition, - puberty, and chan ge oi_ life ; American 
oratory,^ humor, speech, and languag e ; change _ in 
ty pe of disease during the past h alf century, and 
the greater intensity_of_ajiimal life OLl_tliis._i;i)ntinent. 

Seventh. Side by side with this increase of ner- 
vousness, and partly as a result of it, lon gevity has 
increased, and in all ages bra,in-workers have, on 
the average, been long-lived, the very greatest gen- 
iuses being the longest-lived of all. In connection 
■with this fact of the longevity of brain-workers is 
to be noted also, the law of the relation of age to 
work, by which it is shown that original brain-work 
is done mostly in youth and early and middle life, 
the latter decades being reserved for work requir- 
ing simply experience and routine. _^__^ 

JElghth. The evil of American nervousness, like 
all other evils, tends, within certain limits, to correct 
itself ; and the physical future of the American 
people has a bright as well as a dark side ; increas- 
ing wealth will bring increasing calm and repose ; 
the friction of nervousness shall be diminished by 
various inventions ; social customs with the needs 
of the times, shall be modified, and as a consequence 
strength and vigor shall be developed at the same 
time with, and by the side of debility and ner- 


Some of the views hei-ein contained have passed 
long since through the three stages through which all 
new truths must pass before they enter into the fel- 
lowship of science; the stage of indifference, the stage 
of denial, the stage of contests of priority ; others are 
passing out of the second and third of these stages, 
and others still have not yet passed, or are but be- 
ginning to pass out of the era of indifference. It 
is worthy of comment that some of the most icon- 
oclastic of _the_ truths here_announced, those which, 
when first made known, years since, w.ere believed 
to indicate insanity on the part of the author, and 
were felt to threaten the stability of the science to 
which they belong, have already become so inter- 
woven with our medical literature, that their phil- 
osophy and their terminology are met witli every 
day and every hour in reading and in conversation ; 
out of these researches a number of books have been 
published, in Europe and America, and numbers 
more, as I learn, are in preparation ; in this new 
and immense field, there is room for an army of 

But desi^ite all this rapid adoption and popular 
ization of these facts, their reception is yet, and for 
a long future must remain, very fa]- from beino- 
unanimous ; indeed, only among the leading experts 
can they be said to have gained complete and 
unwavering acceptance ; with the great body of 


science young and old, these truths are as though 
they had never been ; in all our cyclopedias of med- 
icine, the terms hysteria, somnambulism, ecstasy, 
catalepsy, mimicry of disease, spinal congestion, in- 
cipient ataxy, epilepsy, spasms and congestions, an- 
emias and'hypereinias alcoholism, spinal irritation, 
spinal exhaustion, cerebral paresis, cerebral exhaus- 
tion and irritation, nervousness and imagination are 
thrown together recklessly, confusedly, hopelessly as 
in a wi tche s caldron ; and in all, and through all, 
one shall look vainly — save here and there, for an 
intelligent and differential description of neuras- 
thenia, the most frequent, the most important, the 
most interesting nervous disease of our time, or of 
any time ; still hay-fever is classed as parasitic or 
infectious, although as justly insanity or epilepsy or 
neuralgia might be similarly classed ; still i nebriety 
or dipsomania, is either not mentione d at all_ or 
grotesquely confounded with alcoholism or epilepsy ; 
still our medical graduates, after years spent in lis- 
tening to lectures, must wait for their diploma be- 
fore they are even ready to begin the study of this 
side of the nervous system. Meantime the literature 
of ataxia, whicli is but an atom compared with the 
world of functional nervous diseases,, has risen and 
yet rising with infinite repetitions and revolutions 
to volumes and volumes. 

The researches on the longevity of brain-work- 


ers have a history which, at this stage, as an en- 
couragement to young men who are giving them- 
selves to original work, may ^Droperly be given 
here. The investigations on this subject were made 
by me while a student of medicine, were given as 
a lecture before an association of army and navy 
surgeons in New Orleans, were then put in a gradu- 
ating thesis, which not only received, no. .prize, .but 
not ■ even an _ honorable .mention. A- popular essay 
based on these researches, after being rejected by 
one magazine was finally published in the " Hours 
at Plome," wlien all its statistics and reasonings were 
called in question ; after being put in a somewhat 
different form the same was published in tlie first 
volume of the '" Transactions of the American Health 
Association," and there for the first time, through 
the transactions and through the reprint, was fairly 
brought before the scientific world, and for the 
first time began to have an audience. The essay 
was reprinted in England . .in the London Journal 
of Science, and a full abstract was published in 
Germjuiy, with the statement, that it was an evi- 
dence of the progress of ^cienee in the United 
States that such researches could be made here.'' 
Witliin the last few years the views of that essay 
have been passing into general acceptance in the 
scientific world ; some of them having been used 
of late as a base line whence to attack other 


•researches contained in this book. The philosophy 
and the facts wliich have met with so complete an 
endorsement, were in substance those contained in 
that graduating thesis which now rests in peace in 
the archives of my alma mater._ 

The philosophy of the work of neurasthenia of 
which the present work is a supplement, after a 
long period of indifference — has passed in the 
mind of many, if not the majority of experts on 
nervous diseases, through the three stages whicli 
new truths are destined to pass — so that, now we 
liear little but the dying away echoes of the contest 
of priority which always attends the latter part of 
tlie last stage in the evolution of ideas. 

At the late meeting of the British Medical As- 
sociation Dr. Crichton-Browne gave an address on 
this subject accurately stating and confirming my 
conclusions in regard to the in crease of nerv ous 
diseases, and advocating throughout much of the 
philosophy embraced in that portion of this work 
which is devoted to the signs and causes of ner- 
vous exhaustion ; and he also added some very sug- 
gestive and well-stated observations of his own ; 
even going so far as to assert that the English aro 
growing thinner, that they weigh less than thcir 
ancestors of a century ago. 

The law of the relation of age to work which 
Ja, announced and demonstrated in the chapter on 


longevity of brain-workers has not yet been ac- 
cepted by any considerable number of human beings 
so far as known to me, and it is scarcely probable 
that it will be accepted, although it is easier of 
demonstration and absolute verification than any of 
tlie facts that are contained in these researches ; men 
feel as though this discovery were an attack upon 
the human i-ace, and by the instincts of self-preser- 
vation every one is enlisted to oppose it. It is 
probable, therefore, although any one with a c j^-clo- 
pedia. can confirm all that I claim to have discov- 
ered on this subject, that a yet higher and \vider 
development of the scientific sense will be required 
before even experts in pyschology shall be ready 
to receive a scientific truth so opposed to the al- 
most universal convictions of mankind. 

When, a number of years ago, I formulated some 
of the signs and proofs of this increasing nervous- 
ness, there was scarcely a responsive voice in any 
. country; but the strongest, most numerous and com- 
) prehensive endorsements these views have obtained 
have thus far been in Germany and England more 
than in the United States, which is the nervous 
country by pre-eminence. So far as I know, tliere 
has been no hostile criticism of this philosophy in 
Germany, but in England, even now, tliese views 
are not unanimously sustained. At the time that 
Dr. Crich ton- Browne gave his essay in which Iip 


not only asserted all that I had claimed on the in- 
crease of nervousness, hut "went even farther than 
I should have dared to go, on their increase in 
England, the distinguished microscopist. Dr. Lionel 
Beale, published a work on " Slight Ailments," in 
which he had occasion to refer to nervousness and 
to my researches in that subject, and he denies 
that there has been any increase; and implies that 
if our fathers had observed properly, they would 
have found as much as their descendants. Philos- 
ophy of this kind comes partly from defective 
observation ; but more, it is to be feared, from 
defective reasoning; from conjoined inability and 
unwillingness to trace detailed facts back to^Jhe 
generallaws whence they flow, or to take a wide 
survey of intricate and difficult problems. If this 
philosophy be driven to its logical conclusion, it 
must assert that, on the banks of the I^ile and the 
Amazon, among the fading-away Indian tribes of 
our continent, in Greenland, in Iceland, in Lapland, 
in Russia, in China, in Turkey, in Australia, in 
India, in Japan, and in • the Cannibal Islands there 
is just as much hay-fever, just as much epilepsy, 
just as much inebriety and insanity, just as much 
neurasthenia, as many phases of insomnia, of head- 
ache, just as much near-sightedness, as much hypo- 
chondria, hysteria, chorea, and as much mental and 
physical debihty as there is in London and New 


York. A conclusion so unscientific and non-ac- 
cordant with general — to say nothing of special — 
observation, is a thousand times over refuted by 
facts contained in this volume ; and that at this 
late hour, this delusion survives in scientific society 
is an argument more potent than all others I know, 
for such a re-construction of our system of education 
as shall make reasoning of that kind among edu- 
cated men impossible. 

The London Times in commenting on some of 
the views here brought forth has assumed and 
stated that I deplore the necessity of stating them. 
An inference so erroneous I trust may not be drawn 
from the present volume. Science fears not, nor 
does it hope — it does not even expect ; but takes 
all that it finds in nature and makes it its own, 
trusting all, receiving all, and witli equal welcome. 

It has been said, it will be said here, that these 
subjects are unworthy of science, and that the time 
and force of scientific men expended upon them 
might have been more wisely used in other realms ■ 
and it will be urged, as it has been urged, upon 
those who would make the wisest use of their 
powers, to give little heed to the scientific study 
of this side of psychology and sociology. 

As compared with polities, a toijic like this 
must seem, and especially in a land like ours, very 
small indeed ; so that only when we fix our eyes 


most closely upon it, is it possible to see it at all ; 
but it is the office, the nature, the essence and the 
life of science to ennoble the ignoble, and out of 
sinallness and meanness to evolve greatness and 
beauty; all science that is now known is but the 
organization of phenomena of nature that men have 
thought to be too trifling for the solemn attention 
of the human mind. 

\ The philosophic study of the several branches 
of sociology, politics, charities, history, education, 
shall never be even in the direction of scientific 
precision or completeness until it shall have ab- 
sorbed some, at least, of the suggestions of this 
problem of American JSTervousnessTi We are, there- 
fore, called to its study by the very presence in our 
minds of the seemingly weightier matters that 
would drive it out of sight ; we are called to it by 
politics its elf, which American youth_,ai' 
the only theme_worthY the attention of an a mbitious 
n ature ^; by the problems of merchandise, of inven- 
tion, of property, and of socia l_order. p This subject 
also calls us to its study by the chance it gives 
tErough widely-opened doors for original, creative, 
pioneering, and producti\e work that shall make 
Europe follow us, i nstead o f our following _Europe7j 
Long enough this babyland of science has fed on 
the crumbs that fall from Germany's table ; corn 
and fruits we are carrying to the old country; let 


new ideas, and crops of fresh discoveries go with 
them. Better to criticise and confirm than to be 
idle ; but wiser far to make others criticise and 
confirm. If we will cease to cross the sea in our 
search of materials for thought, and take those that 
fall in full showers at our doorsteps, we shall do 
our best service for other lands as well as for our 

The hope may be expressed — that this theme 
may not be judged by tlie imperfectness and in- 
expertness of its representative ; the insignificance 
of the author may weaken, but cannot destroy 
his cause ; for, as little children sometimes return 
homeward from their play so laden and covered over 
with wreaths and flowers that they themselves are 
hidden, so this subject by its richness and import- 
ance quite conceals and overshadows its advocate. 

G. M.' B. 

New York, May 1 — 
lei Madison Avenue. 




What it is not — The Maine Jumpers — Nervousness is Nerve- 
lessness — A lack of Nerve- force — Symptoms of Nervous 
Exhaustion — Nervous Bankruptcy — Reserve Force 
needed — Why American Nerv ousness ^Nervousness dis- 
tinguishedTrom Organic Disease 1-17 



Principles of evidence to be applied in the study of this sub- 
ject — Statistics of little value — Functional Diseases not 
fatal — Nervousness vs. Longevity — Increase of the Ner- 
vous Diathesis — The Nervous Diathesis — Increased Sus- 
ceptibility to Stimulants and Narcotics — English vs. 
American Drinking — English Drinking Capacity — Tem- 
perance a Modern Virtue — Inebriety — Smoking — Sensi- 
tiveness to Drugs — Thirstlessness — Indigestion — Rela- 
tion of Indigestion to Nervousness — Sensitiveness of 
Digestion — Near-Sightedness — Weak Eyes — Americans 
Moderate Eaters — Increase of Near-Sightedness and 
Weakness of the Eyes — Early and Rapid Decay of the 
Teeth — Teeth of Savages — Premature Baldness — Sensi- 
tiveness to Heat and Cold — Evolution of Nervousness — 
Nervous Exhaustion (Neurasthenia) — Increase of Dis- 
eases not Distinctively Nervous — Diabetes and Bright'a 
Disease — Chronic Catarrhs — Catarrh of Nose and Throat — 
Sensitiveness to Medicines — Habit of taking Drugs — Re- 
lation of Nervousness to Beauty — American Beauty — 
American vs. English Female Beauty — American Muscle- 
Reading — Relation of Dress to Nervousness — Dentition, 


Puberty, and Change of Life— Parturition, Nursing 
— Diseases of Women, Lacerations of tlie Womb and 
Perineum— Relation of AmericaaJOj.-aio.rjL_to_Ameii€an 

TJaryniignpy-WBrvni-iaripas^nH Hlimor — PhilnSJOpTlY nf^- 
Arnerican Humor— The^ Ame rican Language — Nervous- 
ness and Lajnguage — Eapidity of Speech and Pitch of 
Voice— Greater Susceptibility to Trance in America — 
Change in Type of Disease — Diseases of Savages — 
Syphilis growing Milder — Nervousness Increased by 
Inheritance — Intensity of Animal Life in America 18-95 



Civilization very limited in extent — Analogy of the Electric 
Light — Analogy of the Steam Engine— Necessary Evils 
of Specialization — Clocks and Watches — Necessity of 
Punctuality — The Telegraph — Effect of Noise on the 
Nerves — Disagreeable Odors — New York Elevated Road 
^Railway Travelling and Nervousness — Rapid Devel- 
opment and Acceptance of New Ideas — Increase in 
Amount of Business in Modern Times — Buying on a, 
Margin -iis. Gambling — Increased Capacity for Sorrow — . 
Love and Philanthropy — Repression of Emotion — Do- 
mestic and Financial Trouble — Politics and Religion — 
Liberty as a Cause of Nervousness — Elections — P rotes- 
tantisms — Anxiety and Insanity-^^vils of Forethought 
— Indian Indifference — Comparative Size of the Ancient 
and Modern World — Activity of the Modern World — Life 
in Ancient Athens and New York Contrasted— Greece vs. 

America — Climate — Extremes of Heat and Cold No 

Summer in England — Mildness of the English Winter 

Dryness of the Air— Rocky Mountain Region— Dryness 
and Electricity— High Temperature of Houses— How Dry 

Air Causes Nervousness— Moisture of England Out-door 

Life of English— The Late Season— Chorographic Map 
of the United States— Less Nervousness South — Climate 
of America Compared with that of Japan — Differences in 
American Climate— Nervousness in the W est — Clitnoto^ 
Contrasted — Tropical and Sub-Tropical Climate Con. 


trasted with the Climate of the United States — Caprice of 
Southern Climate — Severity of this Season— Kecapitula- 
tion of Causes of Nervous Exhaustion — Modem Civiliza- 
tion — Climate — Race — The Nervous Diathesis — Exciting 
Causes — Nervousness and Civilization— Tobacco and Eye 
Disease — Opium Eating in China — Opium Eating not 
always Injurious to the Chinese — Health and Habits of 
North American Indians — Physique of Wom an-in. the 
Savage__SUte — North m. South — The Problem can be 
Solved hy Studying this Continent alone — A Study of 
Sout hern Negroes — Comparative Physique of East and 
West— East m. West— Australia 96-193 



Tlie Popular Belief a Delusion — Longevity,of Brain-Workers -, 
— Difficulties in the Investigation— Hj reat Longevitv of 
G reat Men — Comparative Longevity — Causes of Great 
Longevity of Brain- Workers — Brain- Workers have less 
Worry — Brain-workers have more Comforts — Nervous- 
ness favors Longevity — -Brain-Workers Easier in Old 
Age— Eelation of Age to Work, Reputation, and Ability 
— Force vs. Results of Force-J'Original and Routine Work 
— Replies to Criticisms — Method of Investigation — Num- 
ber and Quality of Biographies Consulted — Results of the 
Investigation — The Golden Decade — Apparent and Real 
Exceptions to the Average — Old Age of Artists — Old Age 
Imitates Itself — Childhood and Old Age but Imitators — ■ 
Application of the Law to Animals and Plants — Unpopu- 
larity of these Truths — Moral Decline and Happiness in 
Old Age — Compensations of Age — Comparative Longevity 
of the Professions — Longevity of the Precocious — Moral 
ns. Morbid.Precocity — The Great Longevity of Cllrgymen 
— Causes of the Exceptional Longevity of Clergymen— 
Consolation for t he Nervous — Natural History of the 
Nervous — Cycles of Debility — Nervousness a, Constant 
Warning — Healthy Old Age^Recent_Pxo.gj:fisa,Jji_±he 
Treatment of Nervous Diseases 193-391 




Relation of Health to Wealth, and Poverty— Comparative 
Healthf ulness of Different Orders of Brain- Work— Pros- 
pective Increase of Nervous Diseases — Inebriety a Type 
of all — Increase of Opium Habit— Increased Susceptibility 
to Muscular Exercise — Reconstruction of the Systems of 
Education demanded — Why Education is Behind other 
Sciences and Arts-y fhe Gospel of Kes.P ^Ignorance a 
Necessity — The Art of Reasoning — Senses to be Chiefly 
Used — Lectures and Languages — Psychological Object 
Teaching — Authors' Experience — Competitive Examina- 
tions — Recent Improvement in the American Physique — 
Germaniz ation of Ameri ca — Americ anization of Euro pe 
—The Omnistic Philosophy applied to this Subject. . .392-345 




If our fathers in medicine of the last centnry 
could be told of the subject of this work, their first 
question would be, "What is meant by the term 
nervousness ? " They would say, and very truly, that 
the G-reeks had no word for nervousness as we now 
understand that term ; and that even down to the 
eighteenth century, nervousness was supposed to mean 
irritability of temper, disposition to anger, excitabil- 
ity — a mental quality, and not a physical disease. 

The first step, therefore, in the study of nervous- 
ness is to define it. First of all, what does it not 
mean ? 

JSTervousness does not mean unbalanced mental 
organization; a pre'dominance of the emotional, with 
a relative inferiority of intellectual nature. Relative 
excess of the emotions may produce symptoms which 
appear to be precisely similar to those which come 
from nervousness, and have been, and usually are, 
classed as nervous symptoms; and from a want of 


knowledge of tins distinction, confusion without limit 
has resulted in the minds of many in regard to this 
whole subject. This dual meaning of the word " ner- 
vous " has been an important obstruction in the study 
of nervousness in general and of many special nervous 

Whatever our philosophy of the relation of mind 
to body may be, practically we are compelled to study 
the mental as well as the physical side of the nervous 
system both in health and disease. Psychology may 
be but physiology out of sight, but psychology, as we 
know it, and physiology as we know it, are not iden- 
tical. Mental strength may coexist with physical weak- 
ness, and physical strength may coexist with mental 

A few illustrations familiar to all will make clear, 
better than any quantity of abstract reasoning, this 
distinction. The performers in the Middle-Age epi- 
demics — those who were attacked with the various 
symptoms of anjesthesia or paralysis, or with chorea 
or hysteria in vast crowds, sometimes in large poj)u- 
lations — these were not nervous, they wp.i-ft aunjily 
unbalanced, that is, they had but b't.tJp. intellectual 
strength and very much emotion^ so that when tliese 
psychical phenomena, as hysteria or chorea, once got 
a start among them, it spread like fire on a praii'ie. 
Trance, Avith its numerous, interesting and intricate 
phenomena, a condition that has been known in all 


ages, and among almost all people, is not nervousness, 
albeit nervoiis people are sometimes subject to it ; it is 
more Kkelj to be psychological than physical in its 
origin, and it is a condition that can only be studied 
satisfactorily by psychological methods.* 

In the religious revivals of Kentucky, in the 
beginning of the present century, the phenomena of 
" The Jerkers," so called, were not manifestations of 
nervousness, but were in all respects similar to the 
Middle-Age epidemics. To the same order belong the 
performances of the " Holyjiollers," who, in certain 
parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, it is said, were 
wont to roll on the floor in the phrenzy of religious 
excitement. The "Jumpers," of Maine — the pheno- 
mena which I have recently studied, are not nervous, 
although they are called so by many of those who see 
them. As stated in my paper giving an account of 
my experiments with these remarkable people, none 
of them have the symptoms of nervous exhaustion, 
even in a mild form ; they come from stalwart and 
hard-working ancestry, and they can themselves toil, 
and do toil systematically in the woods, and hold their 
own, side by side with their companions — they are not 
sleepless or neuralgic, nor do they suffer from morbid 
fears, or any of the various sensations of neurasthenics ; 

* See my work on Trance, in wliicli tliis distinction between 
physiology and psychology is discussed more fully and variously 


some of them are among the best examples of physical 
hardness and endurance ; but, despite all this muscular 
vigor, and all this broad margin of nerve-force which 
they certainly possess, they can no more help jumping, 
when suddenly struck, or on hearing a sharp sound, 
or throwing, or striking, or repeating automatically 
what is suddenly communicated, than they can avoid 
breathing. This interesting survival of the Middle 
Ages that we have right here with us to-day, is the 
most forcible single illustration that I know of, of the 
distinction between unbalanced mental organization 
and nervousness. 

These Jumpers are precious curiosities, relics or 
antiques that the fourteenth century has, as it were, 
dropped right into the middle of the nineteenth. The 
phenomena of the Jumpers* are as interesting, sci- 
entifically, as any phenomena can be, but they are 
not contributions to American nervousness. 

Brainlessness (excess of emotion over intellect) is, 
indeed, to nervousness, what idiocy is to insanity ; and, 
like insanity and idiocy, the two are very often con- 
founded. Insani ty is a disease of the brain in which 
mental co-ordination is seriously impaired ; but idiocy 
does not necessarily come from disease, but from defi- 

* In the December number of Popular Science Monthly (1880), 
I described tbe phenomena of these Jumpers, and gave the re- 
sults of my experiments with them, and showed their rela- 
tions to mental and physical disorders more in detail than I can 
do here. 


cient brain, or a brain un balanced or ba dly organize d ; 
as these psychical or mental disorders, like those of 
the Holy Rollers, the Jumpers, etc., do not come from 
disease, but from ill-balanced brains — a preponderance 
of emotion : and such mental disorders may appear, 
and usually do appear, in those who have an abun- 
dance of nerve-force, and can never become neuras- 
thenic, or nervously exhausted. 

Idiocy and insanity may sometimes run together ; 
so an emotional nature may sometimes become ex- 
cessively nervous. 

Nervousness is not passionateness. A person who 
easily gets excited or angry, is often called nervous. 
One of the signs, and in some cases, one of the iirst 
signs of real nervousness, is mental irritability, a dis- 
position to become fretted over trifles ; but in a major- 
ity of instances, passionate persons are healthy — their 
exhibitions of anger are the expression of normal 
emotions, and not in any sense evidences of disease, 
although they may be made worse by disease, either 
functional or organic. 

Nervousness is nervelessness — a lacTc of nerve- u 
force. 1 1 ^ 

If it be asked why I do not use the term nerveless- 
ness in preference to nervousness, the reply is, that 
nervousness already has the floor, and will hold it, and, 
with the above explanations, need not mislead. It is 
difficult, and sometimes beyond our power to drive out 


an old term, even although it be but partially correct. 
In medical science we are forced to retain terminology 
that is in the last degree unscientific, for the same 
reason that we retain our orthography, which in the 
English language is, as all know, very bad indeed. 
Such terms as Writer's Cramp, which gives but little 
idea of the condition to which it is applied, and Hay- 
Fever — one of the most unscientific and least expres- 
sive terms in medicine — we are compelled to adopt in 
scientific literature. Similarly, such common terms as 
hysteria and epilepsy are as strong in their positions 
as ever, although scientific men use them under re- 
served protest. It is, therefore, unwise to attempt to 
displace the term nervousness by nervelessness, or by 
any other word that might be framed. An attempt of 
this kind would doubly fail ; it would not be under- 
stood, and would, therefore, bring confusion ; and 
would not succeed in driving out the old and familiar 
term which has so long been growing in popular and 
professional literature. 

Nervousness manifests itself by some one or many 
of a very large number of symptoms of functional de- 
bility and irritability, the majority of which symptoms 
are not found in those who have simply unbalanced 

mental organizations, and among these symptoms 

which are described "or illustrated in detail in my 
work on E"ervous Exhaustion (Neurasthenia)— are the 
following : 


Insomnia, flushing, drowsiness, bad dreams, cere- 
bral irritation, dilated pupils, pain, pressure and heavi- 
ness in the head, changes in the expression of the eye, 
neurasthenic asthenopia, noises in the ears, atonic 
voice, mental irritabilitj, tenderness of the teeth and 
gums, nervous dyspepsia, desire for stimulants and 
narcotics, abnormal dryness of the skin, joints and 
mucous membranes, sweating hands and feet with 
redness, fear of lightning, or fear of responsibility, 
of open places or of closed places, fear of society, 
fear of being alone, fear of fears, fear of contamina- 
tion, fear of .everything, deficient mental control, lack 
of decision in trifling matters, hopelessness, deficient 
thirst and capacity for assimilating fluids, abnormal- 
ities of the secretions, salivation, tenderness of the 
spine, and of the whole body, sensitiveness to cold 
or hot water, sensitiveness to changes in the weather, 
coccyodynia, pains in the back, heaviness pf the loins 
and limbs, shooting pains simulating those of ataxia, 
cold hands and feet, pain in the feet, localized per- 
ipheral numbness and hypersesthesia, tremulous and 
variable pulse and palpitation of the heart, special 
idiosyncrasies in regard to food, medicines, and ex- 
ternal irritants, local spasms of muscles, difficulty of 
swallowing, convulsive movements, especially on go- 
ing to sleep, cramps, a feeling of profound exhaus- 
tion unaccompanied by positive pain, coming and 
going, ticklishness, vague pains and flying neuralgias, 


general or local itching, general and local chills and 
flashes of heat, cold feet and hands, attacks of tem- 
porary paralysis, pain in the perineum, involuntary 
emissions, partial or complete impotence, irritability 
of the prostatic urethra, certain functional diseases 
of women, excessive gaping and yawning, rapid decay 
and irregularities of the teeth, oxalates, urates, phos- 
phates and spermatozoa in the urine, vertigo or dizzi- 
ness, explosions in the brain at the back of the neck, 
dribbling and incontinence of urine, frequent urina- 
tion, choreic movements of difEerent parts of the 
body, trembling of the muscles or portions of the 
muscles in different parts of the body, exhaustion 
after defecation and urination, dryness of the hair, 
falling away of the hair and beard, slow reaction of 
the skin, etc. Dr. ITeisser, of Breslau, while translat- 
ing my work on Nervous Exhaustion into German, 
wrote .me that the list of symptoms was not exhaust- 
ive. This criticism is at once accepted, and was long 
ago anticipated. An absolutely exhaustive catalogue 
of the manifestations of the nervously exhausted state 
cannot be prepared, since every case differs somewhat 
from every other case. The above list is not supposed 
to be complete,* but only representative and typical. 

* Other symptoms of Neurasthenia have been described by me 
in a series of papers in the New York Medical Record, on Nervous 
Diseases connected witlv the male genital functions, published 
during the last two years, ending February 19, 1881. It is quite 
true, as Dr. Neisser states, that certain chronic catarrhs of the 


Nervous Bankruptcy. 

A nervous person suffering from any number of 
the above-named symptoms is one vs^lio has a narrow 
margin of nerve-force. 

In finance, a man is rich who always lives within 
his income. A millionnaire may draw very heavily on 
his funds and yet keep a large surplus ; but a man 
with very small resources — a hundred dollars in the 
bank — can easily overdraw his account; it may be 
months or years before he will be able to make him- 
self square. There are millionnaires of nerve-force— 
those who never know what it is to be tired out, or 
feel that their energies are expended, who can write, 
preach, or work with their hands many hours, with- 
out ever becoming fatigued, who do not know by per- 
sonal experience what the term exhaustion means ; 
and there are those — and their numbers are increasing 
daily — -who, without being absolutely sick, without 
being, perhaps for a lifetime, ever confined to the 
bed a day with acute disorder, are yet very poor in 
nerve-force ; their inheritance is small, and they have 
been able to increase it but slightly, if at all ; and if 
from overtoil, or sorrow, or injury, they overdraw 
their little surplus, they may find that it will reqiiire 
months or perhaps years to make up the deficiency, 

nasal passages, pharynx and eyelids are of a neurasthenic char- 
acter, and are maintained by a depressed state of the nervous 


if, indeed, they ever accomplish the task. The man 
with a small income is really rich, as long as there is 
no overdraft on the account; so the nervous man 
may be really well and in fair working order as long 
as he does not draw on his limited store of nerve-force. 
But a slight mental disturbance, unwonted toil or ex- 
posure, anything out of and beyond his usual routine, 
even a sleepless night, may sweep away that narrow 
margin, and leave him in n ervous bankruptcy, from 
which he finds it as hard to rise as from financial 

A man is not well and strong and properly or- 
ganized and equipped for life, who has not a large 
amount of reserve force, much m.ore than is needed 
in his ordinary duties. An electric battery that does 
not supply very much more electric force than is 
needful for the use to which the battery is put, is a 
failure, since, by the wasting > away of the elements 
and the chemical changes that take place in the fiuid, 
the force will tend to diminish, and unless there be 
originally a great reserve in excess of what is needed 
for the purpose — either medical or other use — there 
will be necessary frequent cleaning and overhauling. 
Scores of batteries of all sorts have been brought to 
me by hopeful and earnest inventors, which I have 
been obliged to condemn simply for this : that while, 
perhaps, they have every other desirable element in 
an instrument for medical use, they are deficient in 


reserve_joi:£iS- When in perfect order, with new 
fluid, the elements clean, all the connections per- 
fectly bright, they will give, perchance, all the elec- 
tricity that is needed, and thus deceive the inventor, 
the manufacturer, and the one who purchases ; but in 
a few days the reserve is so drawn upon that they are 
useless, and in time become too feeble for the whole 
range of medical purposes, even after being thoroughly 
cleaned. I have been compelled to make myself very 
unpopular with inventors and manufacturers for giv- 
ing this opinion in regard to their instruments. Men, 
like batteries, need a reserve force, and men, like bat- 
teries, need to be measured by the amount of this re- 
serve, and not by, what they are compelled to expend 
in ordinary daily life. Prof. Erb, of Leipsic, in his 
brief but very appreciative, scientific and suggestive 
chapter on " Neurasthenia," in Zimmsen's Cyclopedia 
of Medicine, emphasizes the fact that unusual exertion, 
out of the oi"dinary line of toil, is especially exhaust- 
ing to neui-asthenics. This is a fact which I ob- 
served for years in all my study of the subject, and 
it is an instructive and important fact in our study 
of the pathology of neurasthenia and of nervous- 
ness in general. The greater exhaustion that comes 
from unusual and unwonted exertion, has this two- 
fold explanation, which is quite clear to those who 
are familiar with modern physics : First, unusual ex- 
ertion, along the untravelled pathways of the nerves, 


meets with greater resistance, just as the electric force 
meets with greater resistance in a badly conducting 
circuit. Eoutine labor requires the evolution and 
transfer of force along well worn pathways, where the 
resistance is brought down to a minimum ; hence a 
very slight evolution of force is sufficient to produce 
the result, just as a very slight amount of electricity 
will pass through a good conductor, like a large cop- 
per wire. To overcome this resistance of these un- 
worn pathways, more nerve-force is required : the re- 
serve is drawn upon ; the man becomes tired. Hence 
we see that neurasthenics m^Iio can pursue without 
any special difficulty the callings of their lives, even 
those callings requiritig great and prolonged activity, 
amid perhaps very considerable excitement, as that 
of statesmanship, politics, business, commercial life, 
or in overworked professions, are prostrated at once 
when they are called upon to do something outside 
of their line, where their force must travel by paths 
that have never been opened and in which the ob- 
structions are numerous and can only be overcome by 
greater energy than they can supply. In the presence 
of unusual exertion, these persons are like men with 
moderate incomes, who, having long been accustomed 
to live within those incomes with ease, and who are 
therefore relatively rich, are called upon suddenly 
and unexpectedly to meet an unusual drain, and so 
become insolvent. 


The purpose of treatment in cases of nervous 
exhaustion is of a twofold character — to widen the 
margin of nerve-force, and to teach the patient how 
to keep from slipping over the edge. 

Why American Nervousness ? 

The very title of this work, " American ISTervous- 
ness," may seem to some a giving away of this 
question ; to others, perhaps, an insult. It is asked 
why not English, French, German, or Irish nervous- 
ness ? Our answer is, that while modern nervousness 
is not peculiar to America, yet there are special^ex- 
pressions of this nervousness that are found here only ; 
andThe^elafive quantity of nervousness and of ner- 
vous diseases that spring out of nervousness, are far 
greater here than in any other nation of history, and 
it has a special quality. American nervousness, like 
American invention or agriculture, is at once peculiar 
and pre-eminent. Our title is justified by this, that 
if once we understand the causes and consequences of 
American nervousness, the problems connected with 
the nervousness of other lands speedily solve them- 

He who has ascended the summit of Mont Blanc 
looks easily down on all the other mountains of the 
Alps, none of which he cares to ascend, for already he 
is higher than they ; he who has solved the problem 
of nervousness as it appears in America, shall find its 


problems in other lands already solved for him ; for 
as the greater includes the less, so the history of the 
rise and growth of the nerve maladies of the United 
States embraces all of a similar or allied nature that 
have arisen in other lands. 

' I have befoi'e me a most valuable book by Karl 
Hillebrand, on German Thought. 

Neither by the title of this book nor by the treat- 
ment of the subject does the author imply that there 
is no thought outside of Germany. He does, how- 
ever, imply, and directly state, that in modern times, 
up to a recent day, Germany has done the thinking 
in philosophy for all nations, and that there are pecu- 
liarities of German thought that entitle it to special 
study, and make it legitimate and proper to prepare 
a work on that subject and with that title. For the 
same reasons, American nervousness is a subject wor- 
thy of distinct and special study. 

The philosophy of Germany has penetrated to all 
civilized nations; in all directions we are becoming 
Germanized. \ Similarly, the nervousness of America 
is extending over Europe, which, in certain coiintries, 
at least, is becoming rapidly AmericanizedT/Just as it 
is impossible to treat of German thought without in- 
telligent reference to the thought of other nationali- 
ties, ancient or modern, so is it impossible to solve the 
problem of American nervousness without taking into 
our estimate the nervousness of other lands and ages. 


JVervousness distinguished from organic disease. 

Nervousness is to be distinguished from nervous 
diseases of an organic or structural character. There 
is no evidence — certainly no evidence of a satisfactory 
character — that such serious diseases, for example, as 
locomotor ataxia, spinal paralysis, and various organic 
diseases of the brain, paralysis of a cerebral origin, 
with rupture of the arteries, have so very much in- 
creased in modern times, and there is certainly no 
evidence that diseases of this kind are any more com- 
mon in America than in any other country. Indeed, 
so far as I have been able to estimate from informa- 
tion I have been able to obtain and from my own 
personal observation in the hospitals of Europe and 
of this country, I should say that locomotor ataxia 
and other diseases of the spinal cord are really more 
common in Europe than in America. Sufferers from 
ataxia and spinal meningitis and interior spinal scle- 
rosis, are not usually very nervous people, certainly 
not exceedingly so. Indeed, nervousness, in its ex- 
treme manifestations, seems to save one from these 
organic incurable diseases of the brain and of the 
cord; with some exceptions here and there, the neur- 
asthenic does not go into or die of nervous disease. 
A certain degree of nervousness may be necessary 
for the development of these structural diseases of 
the brain and cord, but not the extreme phases of 
nervousness. It is undeniable that these structural 


diseases — some of them at least, are mncli more 
common in civilized countries than in barbarian, but 
they are not so common among the very nervous as 
among those who are but moderately so ; they may 
be regarded as stopping- places between the strength 
of the barbarian and the sensitiveness of the highly 
civilized. A point which I always make in dealing 
with neurasthenic patients is, that tfieir very frequent 
fear of dying of some organic disease of the brain 
and coi-d, is usually not well grounded, and that 
their very nervousness is likely to save them from 
what they so intensely fear. They may become in- 
sane—some of them do; they may become bed-con- 
fined invalids; they may be forced, as they often are, 
to resign their occupations, but they do not, as a 
rule, develop the structural maladies to which I 
here refer. 

Some of the nervous symptoms above mentioned 
may be found in organic or structural disease, but 
when so found they can be distinguished from the 
same symptoms occurring in neurasthenia or the 
neurasthenic state, by tests — as described in my 
work on ISTeurasthenia — that need not often mis- 
lead us. 

Although nervousness sometimes leads to insanity, 
especially of the melancholic form, and to the types 
known as inebriety and general paralysis of the insane, 
just as it may lead to epilepsy or hysteria, yet there 


is no necessary correlation between simple nervous- 
ness and the extreme or special manifestation of it 
in the form of insanity. Thousands and thousands 
are nervous who are not and never will be insane. 

To compress all in one sentence ; nervousness 
is a physical not a mental state, and its phenomena 
do not come from emotional excess or excitability 
or from organic disease but from nervous debility 
and irritability. 



Foe years, the philosophers of both continents 
have been asking, and in various and inconsistent 
ways have been answering, this question, Are ner- 
vous diseases increasing ? and they have gone to the 
most distant regions and to tlie far away ages for 
arguments which, when found, did not aid them on 
eitlier side. There is no need of this search,_the 
proofs are all about us ; we are overloaded, weighed 
down with excess of evidence ; the proof shines so 
strong that our eyes are blinded by its light ; it irri- 
tates and teases us until we are benumbed, and can 
feel no more. 

Just as, in recent and famous trials in court, of 
persons accused of crime, there have been many 
escapes, from the very excess of evidence against the 
prisoner, whereby the overburdened jury have been 
compelled to give up the hope of finding the truth, 
so the magnitude, multi^ilicity and imminence of the 
phenomena of American nervousness overawe and 
weary us ; the problem becomes harder to solve tlian 
if there were fewer facts to help us in the solution. 


Just as, according to the old story, the passengers of a 
sliip that had been long out of her calculations, being 
in danger of death from thirst, on saluting another 
passing vessel, and asking for water, Avere told to dip 
it up, for they were in the Amazon ; —so philosophers 
wandering in unknown regions, eager for informa- 
tion on this theme, may well pause where they are, 
and dip up facts enough all about them to solve the 
problem for all time. 

Principles of evidence to "be applied in the study 
of this suhject. 

Exact statistics in regard to the relative frequency 
of functional nervous diseases in ancient and modern 
times, or even comparing the last with the present 
century, cannot be secured, for the reason mainly, that 
persons do not die, or at least are not reported to have 
died of those diseases — even when death is a result 
directly or indirectly of neurasthenia, for example, it 
does not appear so in the death records ; consequently, 
the tables of mortality are of no use in the study of 
this subject. The attempts that have been made to 
make comparison of the relative number of deaths 
that result from paralysis of cerebral origin in present 
and past times have failed in aiding the solution of 
this question, and partly for this — that rupture and 
other diseases of the blood-vessels are not, strictly 
speaking, nervous diseases ; they are really vascular 


diseases ; but as rupture or lesion takes place in the 
vessels that go through the brain, the nervous system 
suffers. Diseases of this kind depending upon rup- 
ture in the brain or the breaking of the arteries are 
very old ; and, although they may have increased in 
modern times, they certainly have not increased as 
rapidly as functional diseases of the nervous system. 
Functional nervous disorders, which are an evolution 
of nervous diathesis, belong to a different order of 
disease ; they may increase, while structural diseases, 
such as some forms of paralysis, may decrease or re- 
main stationary. 

The development of nervousness and the increase 
of functional nervous diseases, under whatever names 
they may be known, have been so great in modern 
times, especially in the Northern portions of the 
United States, that there is no need of statistics — 
the facts can be demonstrated by the general observa- 
tion of those who have opportunities to observe, and 
improve those opportunities so as to be able to draw 
correct conclusions. There is as much evidence that 
nervous diseases have increased in this country dur- 
ing the past fifty years as there is that the population 
has increased during the same time. Every ten years 
we have a census, but even if no census were taken, 
we should know that our population had increased 
largely; and that fact is no more certain after a 
census than before, although it has greater preci- 


sion. A person visiting Chicago does not need tof 
go through every house and count every inhabitant 
to know that it is a city of several hundred thousand,! 
and that this population has multiplied from almost 
nothing in 1830 to half a million or more in 1880. | 
Before the last census the citizens of Chicago esti 
mated the population by general observation, and such 
estimates were not far from the truth. The citizens 
of St. Louis made estimates in the same way, and did 
not get so near to the truth. Both cities were influ- 
enced somewhat in their judgment by feelings of local 
pride, but both, in spite of this local bias, were correct 
in their conclusion that their respective cities had 
very materially augmented in population. 

The evidence that nervous diseases have increased 
in the past century is quite as satisfactory ; and even 
if statistics oh this subject could be gathered^ as exact 
and particular as those of our census in regard to our 
population,^ such statistics, like those o f the census, 
would merely give precision and confirmation to what 
we ateeadyJinow, and in regard to which our knowl- 
edge at present is practically sufficient. 

Dr. Althaus, of London, has recently published a 
series of statistics which prove, or seem to prove, that 
organic or structural diseases of the nervous system 
have not increased in Great Britain during the past 
decade. These statistics are based on mortality reports, 
and are undoubtedly as correct as, in the nature of 


tilings, they can be ; but for the reasons above given 
on the general subject of the increase of nervous dis- 
eases thej shed absolutely no light. Nervous diseases 
or symptoms of the functional type, do not usually kill 
patients. ISTo one dies of spinal irritation ; no one dies 
of cerebral irritation ; no one dies of hay-fever ; rarely 
one dies of hysteria; no one dies of general neural- 
gia ; no one dies of sick-headache ; no one dies of ner- 
vous dyspepsia ; quite rarely does one die of nervous 
exhaustion ; and even when these conditions are the 
cause of death they are not noted as such in the tables 
of mortality ; and yet a fleet of Great Easterns might 
be filled with our hay-fever sufferers alone ; not Great 
Britain, nor all Europe, nor all the world, could as- 
semble so large an army of sufferers from this dis- 
tinguished malady ; while our cases of nervous ex- 
haustion would make a standing army as large as that 
of Russia. Even inebriety, as such, does not kill, or 
necessarily shorten life ; it is the alcoholism and other 
effects of alcohol on the body that destroys inebriates, 
and not the disease inebriety. That these functional 
nervous diseases are multiplying on every hand, par- 
ticularly in this country, is proved by the facts and 
reasonings here presented. But the tables of mortal- 
ity give on this subject no information ; these mala- 
dies might increase a hundred-fold and the death-rate 
would not be unfavorably affected by such increase. 
Take sick-headache, for example ; in nearly every 


family of our brain-working, indoor-living classes there 
are cases ; yet who dies of sick-headache ? Seventy- 
five years ago hay-fever was almost unknown in this 
country or the world ; now there are pi-obably 50,000 
cases in the United States alone, but who would sus- 
pect this increase from our tables of mortality ? Per- 
sons may and do die with these diseases, but they do 
not die of them. Indeed, as I have elsewhere and 
often urged, these diseases favor longevity, and in a 
variety of ways ; they make it necessary to be cau- ^ 
tious, to avoid protracted over-exertion ; they make it \- 
difScult or impossible to acquire destructive habits, 
and positively protect the system against febrile and 
inflammatory diseases. Hence the explanation of the 
apparent paradox that while the-re are more of these 
diseases in the United States than in all the rest of the 
world combined, there is no country where the lon- 
gevity is greater than here. 

(Nervousness of constitution is, indeed, an aid to 
longevity, and in various ways; it compels caution, 
makes imperative the avoidance of evil habits, and 
early warns us of the approach of peril. Bulwer 
wisely says that it needs a strong constitution to be 
dissipated. Probably no great class of people in the 
world live longer than the professional and business 
men of America — the very class among whom these 
nervous disorders are so often found, the class that 
supplies the victims for our inebriate asylums. J 


I know not where to find a better demonstration 
of the lack of logical and scientific training among 
educated men, than in the published reports of the 
discussion on this question of the increase of n-ervoup 
diseases, at the recent meeting of the International 
Medical Congress in Philadelphia. "While the weight 
of opinion, so far as that goes, was in favor of the 
views advocated by this paper, yet the speakers— men 
of ability and distinction — nearly all illustrated the 
very common habit — and with the laity quite excusa- 
ble — of looking at one side of a subject. Thus, one 
declared that there were no new diseases ; another 
that nervous diseases had only appeared to increase 
through the mistaken observations of specialists. One 
said that alcohol did not produce insanity; another 
declared that it did, and that in connection with it, 
tea, coffee, and tobacco caused more disease than brain 
work. " Wickedness " was solemnly assigned as the 
cause of the increase of nervous diseases, as though 
wickedness were a modern discovery. One man wildly 
declared that " the idea that a man could hurt himself 
over books, was preposterous." But one of the strong- 
est objections made was, that longevity had increased, 
and that intellectual men are generally long-lived. To 
me this objection was of special interest, from the 
fact that when a number of years ago I fir st pu blished 
my investigations on the longevity of brain-workera 
showing that they lived longer than muscle-workers 


and that^eatjnen,, on the average, lived longer than 
ordinary men, and that longevity had clearly increased 
with the progress of civilization, I stated that nervous 
disea ses of t he functional variety had increased pari 
passu with this increase of longevity, and that the 
fa cts, so far fro m being inconsistent, really explained 
each other, and_for diej;easons above noted. 

Increase of the Nervous Diathesis. 

It is observed that nearly all the sufferers from 
nervous exhaustion are those in whom the nervous 
diathesis temperament predominates. It is observed 
that the majority of these cases have what I have 
termed the nervous diathesis — an evolution of the 
nervous temperament. 

I may quote here my remarks on the nervous 
diathesis as published originally in the first edition of 
Beard and EockwcU's "Medical and Surgical Elec- 
tricity," p. 286 : 

By the term nervous diathesis we design to ex- 
press a c onstitu tional- tendency to diseases of the ner- 
vous system. It includes those temperaments, com- 
monly designated as nervous, in whom there exists 
a predisposition to neuralgia, dyspepsia, chorea, sick- 
headache, functional paralysis, , hysteria, hypochon- 
driasis, insanity, or other of the many symptoms of 
disease of the central or peripheral nervous sys- 
tem. What the gouty and scrofulous diathesis is 


to the blood, sucli is the nervous diathesis to the 

The characteristic features of the nervous dia- 
thesis are : 

1. A fine organization. The fine organization is 
distinguished from the coarse by fine, soft hair, deli- 
cate skin, nicely chiselled features, small bones, taper- 
ing extremities, and frequently by a muscular system 
comparatively small and feeble. It is frequently asso- 
ciated with siiperior intellect, and with a strong and 
active emotional nature. By these general features 
the fine organization is so positively distinguished 
from one of an opposite character that it is most 
readily recognized even by those least acicustomed to 
the study of temperaments. It is the organization of 
the civilized, refined, and educated, rather than of the 
barbarous and low-born and untrained — • of women 
more than of men. It is developed, fostered, and per- 
petuated with the progress of civilization, with the 
advance of culture and refinement, and the corre- 
sponding preponderance of labor of the brain over that 
of the muscles. As would logically be expected, it is 
oftener met Avith in cities than in the country, is more 
marked and more frequent at the desk, the pulpit, and 
in the counting-room than in the shop or on the farm. 

2. Liability to varied and recurring attacks of dis- 
eases of the nervous system. The nature of these 
attacks and the frequency of their repetition will be 


variously modified by climate, tlie seasons, and other 
external conditions ; by the personal habits and man- 
ner of life, and especially by sex and age. The typical 
manifestations of the nervous diathesis in infancy are 
convulsions, irritability, and sometimes grave cerebral 
disorder; of childhood, chorea, and analogous symp- 
toms ; of puberty, headache, chlorosis, spermatorrhoea, 
and occasionally epilepsy ; of maturity, sick-headache, 
neuralgia, dyspepsia, with its accompaniments, consti- 
pation, insomnia, nervousness, and emaciation, func- 
tional and reflex and occasionally organic paralysis, 
hypochondriasis, neurasthenia, and, in women, hys- 
teria, spinal irritation, and the long train of nervous 
conditions associated with diseases of the organs of 
reproduction; of old age, "softening of the brain," 
and slow paralysis. A child born with nervous dia- 
thesis may suffer in infancy from attacks of spasms 
of the glottis ; in childhood, from chorea ; at puberty, 
from spermatoiThoea ; between the age of twenty and 
fifty or sixty, from the different grades and forms of 
dyspepsia, sick-headache, and neuralgia; and, in old 
age, may gradually fail beneath the slow advance of 
cerebral degeneration. 

3. Comparative immunity from ordinary febrile 
and .inflammatory diseases. The nervous diathesis 
appears, within certain limits, to protect the system 
against attacks of fever and inflammation. 

There seems, indeed, to be something in the ner- 


vous diathesis which is antagonistic to the febrile con- 
ditions, or at least to those forms which are developed 
by ordinary malaria, for it is certain that on the av- 
erage (with numerous exceptions, of course, on both 
sides) fevers and inflammations are less fatal among 
brain-workers than among muscle-workers, even when 
^ subjected to the same exposure. Now, it is among the 
1 braii>working_class that the nervous diathesis is most 
■distinctly marked and most frequently observed, i 

( This great law also applies to races and nations. 
Although the question is so complicated by differences 
of external conditions that it is impossible to establish 
by statistics the relative quantity and quality of dis- 
ease in civilized and barbarous lands, yet history and 
general observation seem to show that nearly all sav- 
age tribes are more liable to fatal attacks of certain 
forms of inflammatory and febrile disease than the 
civilized. The history of the North American Indians 
seems to point to this fact with considerable conclu- 
siveness. Making all proper allowance for the better 
sanitary conditions, the higlier prudence, and the 
stronger force of will of the civilized man, it would 
appear that he is less liable to contract certain forms 
of inflammatory disease than the barbarian, even when 
exposed to the same influences.) 

The nervous is the prevailing diathesis in tho 
United States. 

The nervous diathesis should be distinguished from 


tlie tuberculous, with which it is frequently combined, 
and with which also it is liable to be confounded. The 
external appearances of the two are not very dissimi- 
lar, but their symptoms and their behavior under ex- 
posure, and especially their prognosis when existing 
separately, are radically different. The tuberculous 
diathesis frequently accompanies a fine organization ; 
but fine organizations only in a certain proportion of 
cases have a tuberculous diathesis. The nervous dia- 
thesis is frequently not only not susceptible to tuber- 
culosis, but apparently much less so than the average, 
and sometimes, indeed, seems to be antagonistic to 
it, for there are many nervous patients in whom no 
amount of exposure or hardship or imprudence seems , 
to be able to develop phthisis, although they may ap- 
pear to suffer intensely and constantly from the vari- 
ous phases of nervous disease. The tuberculous dia- 
thesis frequently appears in the coarsely organized, the 
plethoric, and the muscular. It develops most rap- 
idly and perhaps commits its greatest ravages among 
the poor, the oppressed, and degraded. On the con- 
trary, the nervous diathesis, though found more or 
less among all classes of civilized lands, is chiefly 
found among the higher orders. Both of these dia- 
theses are the results and concomitants of depressed 
vitality ; but the nervous is peculiar to brain- workers 
■and civilization, while the tuberculous also afflicts the 
'-day-laborer and the savage. The one is perhaps an 


impoverishment of the blood, the other an impover- 
ishment of the nervous force. 

The distinction between the nervous and the tuber- 
culous diathesis is seen again in the contrast in their 
prognosis. The nervous diathesis in many of its 
manifestations is speedily relieved, but rarely perma- 
nently eradicated; the tuberculous diathesis is less 
susceptible to actual relief, but in occasional instances 
may be absolutely cured. The nervous diathesis, by 
protecting the system against inflammations, seems to 
lengthen life ; the tuberculous, by attacking and de- 
stroying a vital organ, most fearfully shortens it. In 
both the conflict between the remedies and the disease 
is always hard and sometimes long ; in the nervous 
diathesis it is a guerrilla warfare, in which there are 
frequent skirmishes, with continual fightings and re- 
treatings, where the enemy is disinclined to concen- 
trate his forces or allow himself to be drawn into a 
decisive encounter. In the tuberculous diathesis it 
is a pitched battle for the possession of a yital organ, 
where the enemy fights behind intrenchments, and 
usually obtains the mastery. 

Increased susceptibility to stimulants and nar- 

Among the signs of nervousness is increased sen- 
sitiveness to stimulants and narcotics. This is itself 
proof enough of the heightened nerve sensitiveness of 


the age. It is not only a fact demonstrated every day 
and every hour, but it is as unprecedented a fact as 
the telegraph, the railway, or the telephone. Until 
within twenty-five or thirty years, man, civilized or 
unciv ilized , was an animal of tremendous alcohol 
power, organized for bearing, with only transient dis- 
turbance, enormous and repeated q^uantities not only 
of strong liquors, but also of other narcotics and stim- 
ulants of the various families. 

Among Americans of the higher orders, those who 
live in-doors, drinking is becoming a lost art ; among 
these classes drinking customs are now historic, must 
be searched for, read or talked about, like extinct or 
dying-away species. 

A European coming to America sees a sight that 
no other civilized nation can show him — greater than 
Niagara — an immense body of intelligent people vol- 
untarily and habitually abstaining from alcoholic 
liquors, females almost universally so, and males ab- 
stinent, if not totally abstinent. There is, perhaps, no 
single fact in sociology more instructive and far reach- 
ing than this, and this is but a fraction of the general 
and sweeping fact that the heighteiiei^Sfinsitiveness 
of Americans forces them to abstain entirely, or to nse 
in incredible and amusing moderation, not only the 
stronger alcoholic liquors, whether pure or impure, 
but also the milder wines, ales, and beers, and even 
tea and coffee. Half of my nervous patients give up 


3oftee before I see them, and very many abandon tea 
— next to chocolate the mildest, of all table drinks. 

Under the title of "The National Vice," Mr. 
Kichard Grant White has recently published in The 
Atlantic Monthly what is a most accurate photograph 
of the drinking customs of England as seen to-day. 
Mr. White's observations are in harmony with my 
own, among the very same classes, and in the same 

Note the fact, also, that England is growing ner- 
vous, and that both her men and women drink far less 
than formerly; and on all those subjects they are 
passing through the stage in which we were thirty or 
forty years ago. Every year the higher orders of 
Great Britain are drinking less and less of strong 
liquors ; a simple substitute, a mild drink of a popular 
sort, is having there a most extensive patronage. If 
Mr. White had carried his studies into Germany he 
would have found that the English, with all their 
indulgence in alcoholic liquors, were but pupils and 
Ijeginners — amateurs, compared with the habitues of 
the beer-gardens of Munich, Dresden, and Yienna. 
Gallons upon gallons of their summer beer these Ger- 
mans will drink day after day or in a single evening, 
a quantity of fluid, considered merely as water, that 
would sufiice a brain-working, in-door living Ameri- 
can for a week or month. An English physician of 
much experience in nervous diseases asked me once 


if it were true, as stated in one of my books, that m y 
American patients could not bear smoking. I replied 
that there were very few nervous patients who were 
not injured by it, and very few who would not find 
it out without the aid of any physician. Our fathers 
could smoke, our mothers could smoke, but their chil 
dren must ofttimes be cautious ; and chewing is very 
rapidly going out of custom, and will soon, ]ike snuff- 
taking, become a historic curiosity ; while cigars give 
way to cigarettes. From the cradle to the grave the 
Chinese empire smokes, and when a sick man in China 
has grown so weak that he no longer asks for his pipe, 
they give up hope, and expect him to die. Savage 
tribes without number drink most of the time when 
not sleeping or fighting, and without suffering alcohol- 
ism, or without ever becoming inebriates ; they have 
the vice of drinking, but not the nervous-disease in- 

It is much less than a century ago, that a man 
who could not carry many bottles of wine was thought 
of as effeminate — but a fraction of a man. But iifty 
years ago opium produced sleep ; now the same dose 
keeps us awake, like coffee or tea ; — susceptibility to 
this drug has been revolutionized. 

/^he enormous quantity of alcoholic liquors, includ- 
ing beer, used in the United States, is used to a large 
extent by Germans and Irish, and those who live in 
the distant "West and South. ) 


I Through all the ISTorthern States the brain-work- 
ing classes iind coffee more poisonous than whiskey 
or tobacco, and thousands are made wakeful by even 
a mild eiip of tea. The incapacity for bearing the 
gentlest wines and beers is for thousands of our youth 
the only salvation against the demon inebriety. Thus 
the united forces of climate and civilization are pres- 
sing us back from one stimulant to another, until, like 
babes, we find no safe retreat save in chocolate and 
milk and water. In the South, for climatic reasons, 
these substances are far better endured than in the 
jSTorth ; but the very day on which this page is com- 
posed, I am called to see a Southerner paralyzed, to 
all appearance, through tobacco alone. ) 

To see how an Englishman can drink is alone 
worthy the ocean voyage. On the steamer with me 
a prominent clergyman of the Established Church sat 
down beside me, poured out half a tumblerful of 
whiskey, added some water, and drank it almost at 
one swallow. He was an old gentleman, sturdy, vig- 
orous, energetic, whose health was an object of com- 
ment and envy. I said to him : " How can you stand 
that? In America, we of your class cannot drink that 
way." He replied, " I have done it all my life, and I 
am not aware that I was ever injured by it." 

A number of years since I was present in Liverpool 
at an ecclesiastical gathering composed of leading 
members of the Established Church, from the bishops 


and archbishops through all the gradations ; at lunch- 
son, alcoholic liquors were served in a quantity that 
no assembly of any profession, except politicians, in 
this countiy could have tolerated. 

Capacity to bear stimulants is a measure of nerve ; 
the English are men of more bottle-power than the 

This capacity for drinking measures the force of 
this stalwart people : long hours of brain-toil are better 
endured in Great Britain than in America; there is 
less exhaustion from the strain of overwork. This 
fact is observed by men in public life, as parliamen- 
tary leaders, etc., in England, that they can do more 
speaking, more sitting up late at night, as well as 
more eating and more drinking, than the politicians 
of America. 

It has been said that the strength of a nation is the f 
strength of the thighs rather than that of the brain ; 
and, as an English physician of eminence has observed, 
the best population of the cities of Great Britain 
renews its strength from the large-limbed High- 
landers of the north, but for whom there would be a 
constant degeneracy. It would appear, then, that the 
qualities which are necessary to make a good, strong 
nation are precisely the qualities which make a good 
horseman, and that he who can ride well makes a 
good founder of states. The English, as a people, 
have that b'alance and harmony of temperament that 


always breed well. Large families are commanded by 
unrecorded law, and this little island has become the 
spawning-ground of empires. 

The progress of total abstinence in both countries, 
is due, in part, no doubt, to the special efforts of re- 
formers, but mainly to the general progress of culture, 
and perhaps, most of all, to that heightened nervous 
sensitiveness that makes it impossible for many to 
partake, even moderately, of wine without showing, 
instantaneously or speedily, the evil effects there- 

Temperance, indeed, is mostly a nineteenth cen- 
tury virtue, and the vice of intemperance is a survival 
"of savagery in civilization. Going back yet farther, 
we find that with certain savage tribes, drunkenness is 
the rule, sobriety the exception. In these tribes every 
event of real or supposed importance, a birth, a fu- 
neral, the going to or return from battle, is celebrated 
by hard drinking. Eeprove an Angola negro for 
being drunk and he will reply, " My mother is dead," 
as though that were excuse enough. Even as recently 
as the beginning of the present century, the custom of 
drinking at funerals yet survived with our fathei-s. 
At the present time both culture and conscience are 
opposed to such habits. It is among the depressed 
classes, who yet retain the habits, and the constitutions 
of the last century, that intemperance abounds ; they 
drink as everybody drank, in the eighteenth century. 


It is often claimed that we, of this generation, are 
more injured by drinking than our fathers, because of 
the adulterations of liquors. The reply to this is, that 
analyses show that most of the adulterations are, so 
far as their effect on the nervous system is concerned, 
comparatively harmless, and that few or none of them 
produce intoxication or inebriety. It is through the 
alcohol, and not the adulterations, that excessive 
drinking injures. / 


This functional malady of the nervous system 
which we call inebriety, as distinguished from the 
vice or habit of drunkenness, may be said to have 
been born in America, has here developed sooner and 
far more rapidly than elsewhere, and here also has 
received earlier and more successful attention from 
men of science. The increase of the disorder has 
forced us to study it and to devise plans for it relief. 

Like other nerve maladies, it is especially fre- 
quent here. It is for this reason mainly that asylums 
for inebriates were first organized in this country. 
England, however, is feeling the same need, and is 
beginning to follow our example. 

In certain countries and climates where the ner- 
vous system is strong and the temperature more 
equable than with us, in what I sometimes call the 
temjjerate lelt of the world, including Spain, Italy 


Southern France, Syria, and Persia, the habitual use 
of wine rarely leads to drunkenness, and never, or 
almost never, to inebriety; but in the intemperate 
belt, where we live, and which includes Northern 
Europe and the United States, with a cold and vio- 
lently changeable climate, the habit of drinking either 
wines or stronger liquors is liable to develop in some 
cases a habit of intemperance. Notably in our c oun- 
try, where nervous sensitiveness is seen in its e xtreme 
manifestations, the majority of brain- workers are not 
entirely safe so long as they are in the habit of even 
moderate drinking. I admit that thia was nni-. thp 
case one hundred years ago — and the reasons I give 
in this work — it is not the case to-day in Continental 
Europe ; even in England it is not so markedly the 
case as in the northern part of the United States. 

' For those individuals who inherit a tendency to 
inebriety, the only safe course is absolute abstinence, 
especially in early life ; and in certain cases treatment 
of the nervous system, on the exhaustion of which the 
inebriety depends. ) 

The use of tobacco in the form of smoking cigars 
and cigarettes, is probably more common in America 
to-day than it was a quarter of a century ago, but 
smoking pipes and chewing and snuff-taking, are 
habits which are passing away, among the better 
classes. Thus is harmonized the paradox that while 
thore are more persons, perhaps, who make some 


use of tobacco, there are fewer persons of the same 
classes who make an excessive use of it than for- 
merly ; and of those who do use it, even but lightly, 
there is an increasing number who are perceptibly 
injured by it. ) 

Sensitiveness to drugs. 

The increasing nerve susceptibility of our time 
and country is excellently illustrated by the effect of 
cathartic remedies. It took stronger doses to affect 
the bowels in the last generation than in the present 
— where formei-ly two or three powerful pills were 
required for a strong cathartic effect, now, one or 
two, or perhaps half a pill, suffices. This differen- 
tial action of the same remedy on different tempera- 
ments can be well studied by those who have both 
hospital and private practice; the coarse and phleg- 
matic teniperanients will require, in some cases, sev- 
eral-fold more powerful remedies to give a strong 
cathartic effect than the nervotis and sensitive. 

I am constantly obliged, in my practice , to pre- 
scribe half a pill for a cathartic, where for an old fash- 
ioned constitution, such as we sometimes see, even 
now, two or three, or perhaps even more, are needed. 

One very eminent physician finds that even choc- 
olate, one of the mildest beverages, is a poison to 
him; and another experienced physician who con- 
sulted me one time in regard to himself, could not, 


he said, bear anything that I prescribed. 1 spoke of 
iron : he said iron, even in small doses, made his head 
ache ; and when I tried it, even with other medicines, 
it produced that effect. I suggested quinine : he said 
quinine made him crazy. I tried a zinc combina- 
tion : it disturbed his stomach. And yet this man, 
so variously sensitive, was actively engaged in one 
of our most laborious professions. 


Thirstlessness — a lack of desire for water, and the 
difficulty of assimilating it — is as common among the 
upper classes of Americans as lack of desire for solid 
food, and is a most serious symptom, expressive of a 
lower grade of nerve exhaustion. No people in the 
■ world drink so little fluid as we, either with or be- 
tween meals. To see how other nations drink, and 
to learn how our fathers, half a century ago, used 
to drink, is, to a philosophic nature, worth a trip to 
Europe, though nothing else be seen ; since one may 
live here for a lifetime and never take the pains to 
study the habits of recently-imported foreigners in 
our midst, or the habits of American-born citizens 
in the far distant West. 

Relation of Indigestion to Nervousness. 

Dr. Lauder Brunton, editor of The Practitioner, 
has lately published a very thoughtful and instructive 
paper on "Indigestion as a Cause of Nervous De- 


pressiou," the leading point of which is, that in the 
digestive track and particularly the intestines, various 
gases are formed, as sulphuret of hydrogen, marsh 
gas, etc., which, being absorbed into the circulation, 
have a paralyzing influence on the nerve centres. Dr. 
J. H. Salisbury, of Cleveland, has for years inculcated 
this same doctrine, and has treated his patients in ac- 
cordance with it. Dr. Brunton argues, logically and 
tnithfully, that much of nervous depression results 
from indigestion and from liver disorder, and that 
the old belief that hypocondria had its origin in the 
liver has thus a scientific explanation. While all 
this is quite true, it is also true, that, without special 
reference to digestion there may be impoverishment 
of nerve energy; the digestion even may be strong 
or tolerably so, while the individual is very weak, 
and, on the other hand, the person may be very strong, 
while the digestion is far from perfect; in a word, 
indigestion may excite and maintain neurasthenia and 
may result from it, but neurasthenia is none the less a 
condition of itself, though necessarily modified by the 
state of digestion. If, in an electric battery, however 
well constructed, the fluids are made impure by the 
products of chemical decomposition, the amount of 
force generated for use will be very much reduced, 
though the metals are new and the conduction is 
good; so iu the body, though there may be much 
force in tlie nerve centres, yet if digestion be clogged 


and the waste matters are suffered to accumulate in 
the digestive apparatus and gases, and waste products 
circulate through the nerve system, the amount of 
force generated and usable will be very much dimin- 
ished. When the fluid of a battery is filled with 
impurities by chemical decomposition, we may pour 
in acids as much as we will, but the battery will be 
weak, and the force you will get from it will be 
small ; when the body is clogged with waste products, 
we may supply food, and the best of food, in any 
amount, and the person will be still feeble ; hence it 
is that we so often find not only epileptics, but neu- 
rasthenics and nervous persons with other symptoms, 
are free and sometimes excessive eaters. They say 
their food does not give them strength, and it does 
not, for the same reason that the acid poured into the 
impure fluid of the battery does not give us electric 
force. There are those who all their lives are habit- 
ually small eaters and yet are great workers, and there 
are those who, though all their lives great eaters, are 
never strong; their food is either not digested or 
thoroughly assimilated, and so a much smaller fraction 
than should be is converted into nerve-force. 

Sensitiveness of the Digestion. 
I Delicacy of digestion is one of the best known and 
first observed effects of civilization upon the nervous 
system. The history of the rise and fall of pork as an 


article of food is itself, without any re- enforcing fact, 
most instnictive on this point. In America pork, like 
the Indian, flees before civilization. In aU the great 
cities of the East, among the brain- working classes of 
our large cities everywhere, pork, in all its varieties 
and preparations, has taken a subordinate place among 
the meats upon our tables, for the reason that the 
stomach of the brain-worker cannot digest it. Three 
times a day, and every day in the year almost, the flesh 
of swine in some form was, in the last generation, 
the dependence of our fathers, who could eat it freely 
without ever asking themselves whether it was easy 
or hard to be digested. This dethronement of pork 
has had, and is still having on one side, a disastrous 
effect upon the American people ; for, as yet, no 
article of food with a sufficient amount of fat has 
been generally substituted ; and fat in our dietaries 
is, if it can be aseimilated, one of the imperative 

The demand for the pork of America is exten- 
sive in Europe, the exports reaching annually the 
value of one hundred millions, and the attempt made 
this very year to stop this exportation was an alarm 
to an immense body of capitalists. In our own coim- 
try, pork is yet freely and in some districts almost ex- 
clusively employed, but chiefly in farming districts, 
and especially in the sparsely settled region of the 
South and West. ) 


Americans moderate eaters. 

Compared with Europeans, Americans of the 
middle and higher orders are, or have been, but 
moderate eaters. The bulk of our daily food is less 
than that of the English or Germans. With material 
for food in unlimited variety, we have made less use 
— certainly less frequent use of it at the table than 
any other nation of modern times. Four and five 
meals a day is, or has been, the English and, notably, 
the German custom. Foreigners have greatly sur- 
passed us in the taking of solid as well as liquid food. 

Twenty-five years ago nei-vous dyspepsia was di- 
agnosed in Germany as the " American disease." This 
pre-eminence we deserve no longer — at least not as 
fully as then — for not only is it frequent in England, 
but Geimany itself is a sufferer from this malady. 

Increase of Nearsightedness and Weakness of the 

The eyes also are good barometers of our nervous 
civilization. The increase of asthenopia and short- 
sightedness, and, in general, of the functional disor- 
ders of the eye, are demonstrated facts and are most 
^instructive. The great skill and great number of our 
oculists are constant proof and suggestions of the 
nervousness of our age. 

The savage can usually see well ; myopia is a 
measure of civilization. "Well known German investi- 


gators have shown that near-sightedness increases in 
schools, from class to class, the proportion of near- 
sighted persons in the advanced classes being much 
greater than with those who have just entered. Near- 
sightedness, . however, is but one of many maladies 
of the eye that civilization excites ; the muscles are 
oftentimes weakened by excessive use, and in some 
cases where apparently there has not been over-use. 
And this nmscular weakness is accompanied by great 
pain in the eye, and frequently by inability to read, 
sew, or do any work that requii-es close vision. The 
number of persons of both sexes who suffer in this 
way is very large indeed, and is certainly on the 

The special cause of this increase of near-sighted- 
ness in modern times is so apparent, that there has 
been but little dispute in regard to it — the over-use of 
the eyes for looking at minute objects, as in writing 
and reading. 

In this form of local nervous and muscular de- 
bility, Germany has, it would appear, seemed to lead 
the world, and probably for these two reasons : 

First. lu the German schools and in the student 
life of certain classes of Germans, severe demand is 
made on the eyes by the illegible type and manu- 

Secondly. The Germans, being less nervous than 
the Americans, excess in the use of any organ is more 


likely to induce in them local than constitutional dis- 
ease, in accordance with the general law that in strong 
persons abuse of any function produces local disease 
and in the weak constitutional disease. An American 
breaks down all over — becomes neurasthenic before 
his eyes give out ; he cannot work long enough to 
injure his vision, but must give up while it is , yet 
good. Constitutional diseases prevent local diseases 
and vice versa. 

Dr. Hasket Derby, of Boston, in a recent article 
asserts that, in the United States there is about one- 
third as much near-sightedness as in Europe, but that 
in New England, about one person in every ten who 
consults the oculist is near-sighted. In regard to the 
development of near-sightedness with civilization and 
tlirough the use of the eyes in schools, these propo- 
sitions seem to be pretty clearly supported. 

First, that among savages everywhere, near-sight- 
edness is very rare, just as insanity, neurasthenia, hay- 
fever, the nervous disease inebriety, sick-headache 
epilepsy, hysteria, chorea, and nervous dyspepsia are 
\-ery rare. 

Macnamara declares that he took every oppor- 
tunity of examining the eyes of Southall aborigines 
of Bengal, for the purpose of discovering whether 
near-sightedness and diseases of like character existed 
among them, and he asserts that he never saw a 
young Southall whose eyes were not perfect. 


Secondly. Near-siglitedness is rare in children who 
have not been to school. 

Thirdly. Among the school-children of this coun- 
try, between the ages of six and seven, three out of a 
hundred are found to be near-sighted. 

Fo^irthly. This percentage increases with age, and 
at the age of twent}', twentj-six oiit of one hundred 
Americans are near-sighted. In Russia, forty-two out 
of a hundred, and in Germany, sixty-two out of a 
hundred are near-sighted. 

Dr. Derby believes that spasm or cramp of the 
ciliary muscle, produced by over-use, is one of the 
iirst causes of near-sightedness. 

Dr. Loring, of this city, in an excellent paper on 
this subject, avers that near-sightedness has a reactive 
effect on the mind, of an injurious character, and for 
that reason alone, should, if possible, be prevented. 

At the recent Congress of German Naturalists, at 
Dantzic, Prof. Cohn delivered an address on " The 
Eelation of School Hygiene to Myopia." He claims 
that it is rarely congenital, he having never met with 
it in children below five years of age. In rural schools 
but few myopes are found, the number increasing 
with the grade of the school. The figures in the 
Geneva high schools are alarming. In the " Mal- 
schulen " (corresponding to the scientific course of the 
high school) there were from twenty to forty per 
cent. ; in the elementary schools from ten to twenty- 


four per cent. ; in the village schools five to eleven 
per cent. ; and in the " Gymnasien," or classical high 
school, from thirty to fifty-five per cent. — a regular 
increase from the lowest school to the highest ; show- 
ing clearly that over-use of the eyes in study is the 
one exciting cause of this malady. He forms his 
conclusion from the examination of over 10,000 school 

Early and rapid Decay of the Teeth 

Teeth decay among other peoples, and the pain 
called toothache is probably a thousand years old ; nor 
is man the only animal that suffers in this way. There 
is no class of people of any race or color who lose 
their teeth so early through decay, and so rapidly, and 
need to keep themselves so constantly under the den- 
tist's eye as the better class of Americans. American 
dentists are the best in the world, because American 
teeth are the worst in the world. 

Necessity has been the parent of inventive skill. 
Dr. J. N. Farrar, of New York, estimates that 
$500,000 in pure gold is each year put into the 
mouths of Americans, and four times as much cheaper 
material, such as silver and platina ; that each year 
millions of artificial teeth are mounted, and that but 
little more than one person in a hundred, take peo- 
ple as they are, has perfect teeth. All this is modern, 
and, in this extreme manifestation, American. 


This quick decay of teeth in America, and the 
various forms of nervous diseases that go -^'ith this 
decay, are the results not of climate alone, but of 
climate combined witli civilization : the confluence of 
these two streams is necessary. Irregularities of teeth, 
like their decay, are the product primarily of civiliza- 
tion, secondarily of climate. These are rarely found 
among the Indians or the Chinese ; and, according to 
Dr. Kingsley, are rare even in idiots ; the cretins of 
Switzerland, the same authority states, have " broad 
jaws and well-developed teeth." 

Special investigations have been made in order to 
determine whether negroes and Indians are troubled 
v/ith decayed teeth. Judging from all the sources of 
Information, it is within the facts to assert that while 
the Indians, especially in advanced life, are liable to 
have the teeth decay, and while negroes, even in 
middle life, are similarly affected, yet, as compared 
with sensitive, nervous whites, they suffer but little in 
this way. It is probable that negroes are troubled 
earlier than Indians. The popular impression that 
negroes always have good teeth is erroneous — the 
contrast between the whiteness of the teeth and the 
blackness of the face tending not a little to flatter 
them. Those who have sought to prove that the 
teeth decayed among savages, hundreds of years ago, 
just as rapidly, just as early, and just as badly as they 
decay now, among nervous, susceptible whites of this 


country, because tliey sacceed in finding proofs of 
decay in. skulls which they have examined, are guilty 
of reasoning quite the reverse of expert. 

Another fact of much instructiveness is, that de- 
cayed teeth in Indians and negroes are less likely to 
annoy and irritate than the same amount of decay in 
sensitive, nervous, and finely organized whites of any 

Coarse races and peoples, and coarse individuals 
can go with teeth badly broken down without being 
aware of it from any pain ; whereas, in a finely or- 
ganized constitution, the very slightest decay in the 
teeth excites pain which renders filling or extracting 
imperative. The coarse races and coarse individuals 
are less disturbed by the bites of mosquitoes, by the 
presence of files or of dirt on the body, than those in 
whom the nervous diathesis prevails. Nervous force 
travels more slowly, the refiex irritation is less per- 
ceptible by far, in the dark races and those who live 
out-doors, than in those who live in-dooi-s, and are of 
a nervous diathesis. In the strong and coarsely built 
local irritation remains local, and does not reverberate 
through the body ; while, on the other hand, in the 
feeble, the sensitive, and the highly and finely organ- 
ized, any local irritation is speedily transmitted and 
puts the whole system into disturbance. The simple 
operation of sneezing illustrates this law in a most 
interesting and significant manner. It is said for 


example, of the negroes of tlie South, that they rarely 
if ever sneeze. It is certain that the nervous, feeble, 
sensitive, and impressible of any race are far more 
likely to be provoked into sneezing from slight irrita- 
tion of the nasal passages than those of an opposite 
temperament. In hay-fever, sneezing is one of the 
leading symptoms, and is provoked by irritations in 
themselves of the most trifling character, which those 
not victims of the disease can only be forced to 
believe by a personal battle vrith this enemy of the 

Special explanations without number have been 
offered for this long-observed phenomenon — the early 
and rapid decay of American teeth — such as the use 
of sweets, the use of acids, neglect of cleanliness, and 
the use of food that requires little mastication. But 
they who urge these special facts to account for the 
decay of teeth of our civilization would, by proper 
inquiry, learn that the savages and negroes, and semi- 
barbarians everywhere, in many cases use sweets far 
more than we, and never clean their mouths, and 
never suffer, except in old age. The cause of the de- 
cay of teeth is subjective far more than objective — in 
the constitution' of the modern civilized man. The^i 
young are early cautioned to clean their teeth, and 
properly so ; but the only races that have poor teeth 
are those who clean them. 



The increasing popularity of baldness is one of the 
miaor but most instructive expressions of nerve sen- 
sitiveness. Among savages in. all parts of the earth 
baldness is unusual, except in extreme age, and gray 
hairs come much later than with us. So common is 
baldness in oar large cities that what was once a de- 
formity and exception is now almost the rule, and an 
element of beauty. One may be bald without being 
very nervous ; but the general prevalence of baldness 
comes from the general prevalence of nervousness. 
The beard and hair, accurately studied, are measures 
of nutrition of high delicacy and power. 

A sudden emotional disturbance, as of grief, or 
the exhaustion of acute illness, or an exacerbation 
of chronic debility, may in a few days, or even in a 
few hours, cause the hair to fall or turn white and 
make it excessively dry. 

Although woman is more nervous than man, yet 
she is less afflicted with baldness; the reason being 
that she has on her head more and longer hair, a 
greater proportion of her force being expended in 
that direction ; hence, when she becomes nervous, she 
breaks down in other directions sooner than in this. ) 

Sensitiveness to Heat and Cold. 
Increased sensitiveness to both heat and cold is a 
noteworthy sign of nervousness. We must have the 


temperature of our rooms at least ten or twelve, if not 
flfteen degrees higher than our fathers desired, and 
at least" ten "degrees higher than the English, French, 
or Germans of the present day desire. Dr. Bucknill, 
of England, when visiting the asylums of this country, 
noticed that the temperature was kept not less than 
ten or fifteen degrees higher than that of the asylums 
of Europe. In the winter we must dress warmer 
than our ancestors, we wear more under as well as 
over clothing ; we cannot endure wet feet as they 
could, nor bear with impunity the same exposure. 
India-rubbers are far less used in Europe than here, 
although, on account of the abundant rains, they are 
more needed there. In America rubbers are for sale 
at every shoe-store; in Paris and in London I have 
hunted for hours looking for a pair. Tlie heat of 
summer is not well tolerated; sunstrokes are, rela- 
tively, more frequent, or heat prostrations that sug- 
gest sunstroke, and which are followed in some cases 
by years of nervous disorders and symptoms. The 
months of July and August bear so heavily on our 
brain-working classes as to slow down or suspend 
business everywhere; a visitation of prolonged heat 
is more fatal than yellow fever or cholera ; we are 
driven to the mountains or the sea as by the march 
of an invading army. 

Cold bathing is not borne as well as formerly. 
When the water system first became popular in the 


treatment of disease, great benefit was in many cases 
obtained by the use of very cold water, and the inju- 
rions effects arising from such treatment were not so 
common as now. 

At present, in America at least, cold water is not 
used in hydropathic establishments as universally as 
when these institutions were first started ; and one 
reason, among many others, why the hydropathic 
treatment declined in popularity among English- 
speaking people is, that nervous people (who were 
most likely to frequent these places) were also most 
in danger of being injured by t he u se_j>f f"ld water. 
What their ancestors could not only bear, but be bene- 
fited by, they cannot bear at all. In ordinary bath- 
ing, not only in this country, but in England, it has 
been found of late years, that it is necessary to have 
water warmed somewhat, before applying it to tlie- 
body — the old habit of cutting holes in the ice and 
plunging in is passing away; and the recently pub- 
lished protests in the Lancet, against the use of cold 
water in the morning bath, were wise and timely. 

A large number of the nervous patients whom I 
treat professionally cannot bear the Turkish and Rus- 
sian baths, as they are generally given ; in many cases 
they are injured by "them, and in some cases per- 
manently injured, even for yeai-s. 

In France, where the treatment of nervous dis- 
eases is very little understood, scarcely anythino- is 


advised by the best neurologists except tbe use of 
water, with a result, in the case of many of oui 
American patients, of working serious injury. Two 
cases illustrating this have been brought to my at- 
tention this past month. Even while this paragraph 
is being written, I have received a letter from an 
American physician studying in Germany, in which 
he informs me that one of his patients — a Russian 
lady, I believe — was nearly killed by immersion in a 
dem3 tub of very cold water. 

/ Water treatment is as good for some forms of 
nervous disease as it ever was ; but it must be adapt- 
ed to the constitution of the patient, and adapted 
also to the peculiar needs of each case. ) 

Evolution of Nervousness. — Nervous Exhaustion 

More specifically, and to the eye of some, perhaps, 
more interesting than all, is the increase of _neu- 
rasthenia, or nervous exhaustio n, and effects allied to 
and correlated with it. Out of the soil of nerve-sen- 
sitiveness springs the nervous diathesis which runs 
iuto neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion. Among 
the many branches of this neurological tree are, in 
llie order in which they are very likely to develop in 
many cases — nervous dyspepsia, sick-headache, near- 
sightedness, chorea, insomnia, asthenopia, hay-fever, 
hypochondria, hysteria, nervous exhaustion in its 


varieties, and in the extreme cases — epilepsy, inebri- 
ety, insanity. (See Frontispiece). The disease, state, 
or condition to which the term neurasthenia is ap- 
plied is subdivisible, just as insanity is subdivided 
into general paresis or general paralysis of the insane, 
epileptic insanity, hysterical, climatic, and puerperal 
insanity ; just as the disease or condition that we call 
trance is subdivided into clinical varieties, such as 
intellectual trance, induced trance, cataleptic trance, 
somnambulistic trance, emotional trance, ecstatic 
trance, etc. ; just so neurasthenia has sub-varieties, or 
clinical varieties, the cerebi'al, the spinal, the sexual, 
the digestive varieties, and so forth. These varieties 
of nervous exhaustion are nowhere experienced, no- 
where known, as they are here ; and even here they 
have been known in great abundance only within the 
past quai'ter of a century ; and they ai-e even now 
but just beginning to be scientifically and discrimi- 
nately recognized and differentiated. The fathers and 
mothers — the grandfathers and grandmothers — of our 
neurasthenic parents of both sexes suffered from rheu- 
matism, from gout, from lung fever, frdni all forms 
of colds, from insanity now and then, and from epi- 
lepsy quite often ; but they were not neurasthenic. 

The influences and conditions that excite the 
gout in the phlegmatic and strong develop to ner- 
vousness in the sensitive and weak; neurasthenia is 
more abundant in America, gout and rheumatism 


in Europe. Lately I was consulted by a very ner- 
vous patient who comes from a line of gouty ances- 
tors reaching back through several generations, the 
morbific force in his case having changed to the 
symptoms of insomnia, mental depression, and neu- 

The exces sive nervousness of Americans seems 
to act as an antidote and preventive of gout and 
rheumatis m, as well as of other inflammatory diseases. 
Many of the gouty and rheumatic patients in Europe 
are troubled with indigestion, and it happens very 
often indeed that attacks of rheumatism and gout — 
such as are familiar to the English and Germans — are 
preceded by so-called " bilious attacks," that is, symp- 
toms of indigestion. The antagonism of disease to 
disease, and the force and value of disease in the 
treatment of disease, are illustrated very well by the 
frequency of functional nervous diseases in America, 
and the infrequency of gout and rheuinatic troubles ; 
and it would be most interesting to know whether 
as Europe becomes Americanized, and neurasthenia, 
with its train of symptoms invades Great Britain 
and the Continent, there shall take place a corre- 
sjionding diminution in the frequency and severity 
of gout and rheumatism. 

The purpose of the drawing (Frontispiece) should 
not be misunderstood ; it is not to give a mathemati- 
cal statement or history of the development of ner- 


vous symptoms as applicable to any one case, but a 
general view of the way in which these nervous 
symptoms develop, no two cases being precisely alike 
in this respect, or in any other respect. For clearness 
and convenience I use familiar terms rather than 
technical terms — those which are symptoms of disease 
rather than, strictly speaking, disease itself, such, for 
example, as hypochondria and insomnia. 

The drawing gives a general view of the order 
in which these nervous symptoms are very likely to 
appear, although there is no uniformity. 

Nervous dyspepsia is one of the first, then fol- 
lows sick-headache — sometimes these come together, 
while the other symptoms of neurasthenia or ner- 
vous exhaustion are much later; and yet, hay-fever 
may come very early, even in babyhood ; and near- 
sightedness and chorea in childhood, and neurasthenia 
or nervous exhaustion itself, in any of its varieties, 
may appear without many of the conditions which 
in this drawing seem to precede it; for many of 
these conditions are themselves symptoms of nervous 

There is, it will be observed, no mathematical 
line between nervous diathesis and nervous exhaus- 
tion, the object being to represent what is truly the 
case, a growth and evolution ; a passing from one 
state into another by successive increments. 

Insanity and epilepsy are, occasionally, results of 


protracted nervous exhaustion ; but epileptics do not, 
as a rule, pass through this stage of neurasthenia 
before they become epileptics; indeed, neurasthenia 
saves us, in some cases, from insanity, although it may 
lead to insanity ; on the other hand, inebriety (or 
dipsomania) may occur in those who are not neu- 
rasthenic, but simply of a nervous diathesis ; or, it 
may be one of the Sequels of neurasthenia, just like 
insanity in general. 

One very important fact suggested by this draw- 
ing, that is, that many of the cases of nervous exhaus- 
tion and many of the cases of spinal trouble of va- 
rious kinds, had in early life, nervous dyspepsia and 
sick-headache, from which, perhaps, they have either 
partially or wholly recovered, and which, indeed, they 
may have forgotten. 

Increase of diseases not distinctively nervous. 

Not only purely nervous diseases, such as are 
above described, but also diseases in which there is an 
important nerve element, have increased with the ad- 
vance of civilization. Types of maladies of this class 
are diabetes and the so-called Bright's disease of the 
kidneys in its different varieties. The severe forms 
of Bright's disease do not, as a rule, occur in the very 
nervous, but oftentimes in those of fair if not firm con- 
stitution, and very frequently indeed in those of great 
apparent vigor — the class that suffer from locomotor 


ataxia and cerebral paralysis — but the mjilder and 
more chronic, and intermitting and relievable forms 
occur in those who are quite nervous and sensitive — 
even in the positively neurasthenic. 

That diabetes is largely if not njainly a nervous 
disease is becoming more and more the conviction 
of all medical thinkers, and that, like Bright's dis- 
ease, it has increased of late, can be proved by sta- 
tistics that in this respect are in harmony with ob- 

A single branch of our neurological tree, hay-fever, 
has in it the material for years of study ; he who un- 
derstands that understands the whole problem. In the 
history of nervous disease I know not where to look 
for anything more extraordinary or more instructive 
than the rise and growth of hay-fever in the United 
States of America. Straggling eases of this disease 
are found in Germany and France — possibly, also, in 
Italy and Spain ^ it is somewhat more frequent in 
Great Britain : but in the state of Illinois alone there 
are probably more cases every year, in its earlier, later, 
and middle forms, than in all the rest of the world, 
excepting the other States of tlie Union. 

Ilay-fever, as I have demonstrated in my work on 
that subject, is a nervous disease ; it is subjective more 
;han objective, though excited and maintained by 
invading objective irritations ; it is sijnply the sign of 
susceptibility, tlie peculiar idiosyncrasy of the nem)U8^ 


system to one or many irritants. "Where can we 
find a more completely unprecedented fact tlian this, 
that for many years tliere has been here a large and 
powerful body called " The United States Hay-Fever 
Association," with a not unimportant branch in the 
"West, and with a new branch projected in ISTew York 
city ? The fall or autumnal form of hay-fever is 
peculiarly American, and was but little known, if 
known at all, in this country seventy-five years ago. 
A just estimate on these mattei-s is always impos- 
sible ; but tliat there are in this country, crowded 
together mostly in the northern and western sec- 
tions, diminishing in number as we go south, like all 
other nervous diseases, an army of fifty thousand (a 
respectable city in population) sufferers from this dis- 
ease, is very probable. As I have myself studied or 
known of not less than one thousand cases, this esti- 
mate cannot be A^ery excessive. 

Chronic Catarrhs. 

Catarrh of the nose and nasal pharyngeal states 
— so-called nasal and pharyngeal catarrh — is not a 
nervous disease, in the strict sense of the term, but 
there is often a nervous element in it ; and in the 
marked and obstinate forms it is, like decay of the 
teeth and irregularities of the teeth, one of the signs 
or one of the nerve symptoms of impairment of nu- 
trition and decrease of vital force which make us 


unable to resist cliange of climate and extremes of 

That there has been an increase in nasal and 
pharyngeal catarrh in America during the last half 
century, seems to be pretty clearly estabhshed by 
the recorded experiences of large numbers of phy- 
sicians in general and special practice ; and it would 
seem that these catarrhs are more obstinate and diffi- 
cult to yield to the most judicious treatment known 
to our niodern art. Quite true it is that cataiTh is 
but a symptom, and a symptom of various and differ- 
ing diseased states of the nasal passages and the nasal 
and pharyngeal spaces ; and quite true it is that 
bulging of the septum and hypertrophy of the tur- 
binated bones are common pathological conditions 
in the disease known as nasal catarrh. But these 
hypertrophies and bulgings of the septum are them- 
selves oftentimes a result of imperfect nutrition ; and 
true also it is that, of themselves, they might not 
cause annoyance of an important character ; but when 
acted upon by cold and damp they become sources of 
great and life-long distress. 

There is every reason for the belief that, fifty 
years ago, catarrh was relatively more infrequent 
than now; that is, the number of cases, according to 
the population was not so large. Indeed, this malady 
is now so common that each city or locality in the 
northern and eastern portions of the country is ask- 


ing itself whether there is anything in its location or 

climate to account for the frequency^ and severity 

of the catarrhs with which it is infested.* 

It is certain, also, that the greatest sufferers from 

chronic catarrh are not those who are most constantly 

exposed to the dangers of out-door life — ■ cold and 

damp — but those who live mostly in-doors ; who have 

only intermittent or occasional exposure ; many ladies, 

whose lives all the year are passed under cover are 

the most severe sufferers. All these statements are in 

no way inconsistent with these two facts ; first, that 

cold and damp are exciting causes of catarrh, when 

acting on the predisposed constitution ; and, secondly, 

that the greater attention which physicians of late 

years — general practitioners as well as laryngologist,s 

— have given to the treatment of catarrh has forced 

the subject more constantly and impressively upon our 

notice ; but to reason, therefore, that catarrh has not 

increased, is to imitate the illogical and unscientific 

example of those who have, until lately, contended 

that insanity and neurasthenia have not increased in 

modern times. To my own mind, there is no doubt 

that catarrh is much more frequent in the northern 

and eastern portions of the United States than in any 

portion of Europe. 

* Very recently a committee of the Kings County Medical 
Society in Brooklyn have been investigating the question, whether 
residents of Brooklyn are more liable to suffer from catarrh than 
residents of New York city. 


Habit of taking Drugs. 

America i« a nation of drug-takers. Nowhere 
else shall we find such extensive, gorgeous, and richly 
supplied chemical establishments as here ; nowhere 
else is there such general patronage of such establish- 
ments. Not only in proprietary medicines, but in 
physicians' prescriptions, as well as in self-doctoring, 
this continent leads the world ; a physician can live 
here on half the number of families that would be 
iieeded to support him in Europe, on the same terms. 

But with all our drug-taking we are, as a people, 
sensitive to medicine. The difference between Amer- 
ican and European constitutions, on the side of the 
nervous system, is illustrated- in the different treat- 
ment that our nervous patients receive when they 
consult European physicians of distinction and skill. 
American physicians whose patients go abroad are 
astonished at the powerful medicines and the large- 
ness of the doses ordered by the best authorities in 
Great Britain and on the Continent ; and on the 
other hand, English and Continental physicians are 
astonished at the sensitiveness of Americans to strong 
remedies given in ordinary doses. 

An American physician, long afHicted with severe 
neurasthenia, who for some time had been under 
my professional care, on reaching London, consulted 
a medical gentleman whom I knew to be familiar 
with those conditions as they exist in Europe and 


who is judicious in their treatment. In this ease he 
ordered a combination, such as he was accustomed 
constantly to give in his own practice in London, 
which produced not only a powerful but poisonous, 
and almost fatal effect ; so that, indeed, for some 
houi-s it was a question whether the patient would 

I remarked to the London physician, when I saw 
him, not long after, that I should not have dared to 
have given such a dose to that patient in America ; 
he said, however, that it was a very common draught 
with him. When my patient returned, I put him 
on drop doses of Fowler's Solution and Tincture of 
Cantharides, with most excellent results. 

lielation of- Nervousness to Beauty. 

The phenomenal beauty of the American girl of 
the higliest type, is a subject of the greatest interest 
both to the psychologist and the sociologist, since 
it has no precedent, in recorded history, at least ;. 
and it is very instructive in its relation to the char- 
acter and the diseases of America. 

This entrancing beauty, remarkable at once for its 
intensity and its extent among the comfortable classes 
of America, appears to be a resultant of two factors ; 
the peculiarities of climate, to be hereafter referred 
to, and the unusual social position of women in 


The same climatic peculiarities that make us ner- 
vous also make us handsome ; for fineness of_OTganr 
ization is the first element in all human beaut5:,__in 
either sex. 

In no other country are the daughters pushed 
forward so rapidly, so early sent to school, so quickly 
admitted into society ; the yoke of social observance 
(if it may be called such), must be borne by them 
much sooner than by their transatlantic sisters — 
long before marriage they have had much experience 
in conversation and in entertainment, and have served 
as queens in social life, and assumed many of the 
responsibilities and activities connected therewith. 
Their mental faculties in the middle range being thus 
drawn upon, constantly from childhood, they develop 
rapidly a cerebral activity both of an emotional and 
an intellectual nature, that speaks in the eyes and 
forms the countenance ; thus, fine ness of organization, 
the first element of beauty, is suppl emented by ex- 
pressiveness of features — which is its second element ; 
by the un7on~"or these two, human beauty reaches 
its highest. 

Among the higher classes of America, the dim- 
inution of the friction of daily life, by a voidin g 
the responsibility of housekeeping, united with gen- 
erous living and all comforts, have assisted in adding 
the thind^element of beauty — that is, a moderate 
degree of embonpoint, a feature which, in the ex- 


treme, and not re-enforced by these preceding ele- 
ments — fineness of type and sprightliness of counte- 
nance, becomes the worst element of ugliness. 
/ Handsome women are found here and there in 
Great Britain, and rarely in Germany; more fre- 
quently in France and in Austria, in Italy and 
Spain ; and in all these countries one may find 
individuals that approximate the highest type of 
American beauty ; but in America, it is the extent — 
the common ness of this bea^ity, which is so remark- 
ably, unprecedentedly, and scientifically interesting. 
It is not possible to go to an opera in any of our 
large cities without seeing more of the representa- 
tives of the highest type of female beauty than can 
be found in months of travel in any part of Europe. 

IZ Among the middle and lower orders of the old 
world, beauty is kept down by labor. A woman 
who works all day in the field is not likely to be 
very handsome, nor to be the mother of handsome 
daughters ; for, while mental and intellectual ac- 
tivity in the middle I'ange heightens beauty, muscu- 
lar toil, out- doors or in-doors, destroys it.J/ 

One cause, perhaps, of the almost universal home- 
liness of female faces among European works of art 
is, the ioct that the best of the masters never saw a 
handsoino woman. One can scarcely believe that 
Bubens, hid he lived in America, or even in England, 
at the present time, would have given us such im- 


posing and terrible types of female coantenanees. 
If Eaphael had been wont to see every day in Kome 
or Naples what he would now see every day in 
New York, Baltimore, or Chicago, it would seem 
probable that, in his Sistine Madonna he would have 
preferred a face of, at least, moderate beauty, to the 
neurasthenic and anemic type that is there repre- 
sented. ) 

To the first and inevitable objection that will be 
made to all here said — namely, that beauty is a 
relative thing, the standard of which varies with age, 
race, and individual— the answer is found in the 
fact that the American type is to-day more adored 
in Europe than in America ; that American girls 
are more in demand for foreign marriages than any 
other nationality ; and that the })rofessional beauties 
of London that stand highest are those who, in ap- 
pearance and in character have come nearest the 
American type. 

American vs. English Female Beauty. 

While the beauty of the English girl may perhaps 
in some cases endure longer than that of her Ameri- 
can sister, yet American beauty has this sovereign 
advantage — that it best bears close observation. The 
English beauty is most beautiful at a distance, and 
grows homely as we approach her : the typical Ameri- 
can beauty appears most attractive near at hand ; in 


her case, nearness brings enchantment. The American 
face bears the microscope mainly by reason of its 
delicacy, fineness, and mobility of expression — quali- 
ties that are only appreciated on inspection. The 
ruddiness or freshness, the health-suggesting and 
health-sustaining face of the English girl seem in 
comparable when partially veiled, or when a few 
rods away ; but, as they come nearer, these excelling 
characteristics retreat behind the irregularities of the 
skin, the thickness of the lip, the size of the nose ; 
and the observer is mildly stunned by the disappoint- 
ment at not finding th e nimble and automatic play 
of emotion in the eyes and features, without which 
female beauty must always fall below the line of 
supreme authority. The English beauties of national 
and international fame, at whose feet the empire of 
Great Britain is now kneeling, in this country would 
be held simply as of average rather than exceptional 

It is no hard task for one travelling in Great 
Britain or on the Continent to distinguish American 
ladies from those of any other nationality, by the 
finely cut features and mobihty of expression; the 
practised observer would make a mistake but rarely. 
At the great watering-places, as Homburg and Baden- 
Baden, on the lines where travel is thickest, as on the 
Ehine and through Switzerland, we may often see 
a face which, far away, seems to be purely American, 


but which, as we gain a closer view, is found to be 
all English; should there be a doubt, the voice — 
the speaking of a single word — often solves the 

Eiding once from Paris to Calais, there stepped 
into the coach a lady whom, for vai'ious reasons T 
assumed to be English, although her whole appear- 
ance — her voice, her manner, her conversation — were 
completely American. I concluded that at last I 
liad found a case where it was impossible to make a 
differential diagnosis between an American and an 
English woman ; and I very soon found that my 
reasons for believing her English were not well 
founded — that she was an American, and a typical 
American, in her face, expression, gait, and bearing, 
and even in the functional nervous disease which 
she had long endured. 

It were well if these two exti'emes could be 
united ; an American beauty slowly approaching, an 
English beauty slowly vanishing, present together a 
picture of human beauty the fairest that could fall 
on mortal vision. An American lady who unites 
the American qualities of intellect, of manners, and 
of physique, and who at one period lived for years 
m English territory, compresses it all in one sentence : 
" The English face is molded, the American is chis- 

The superior fineness and delicacy of organiza- 


tion of the American Avoraan, as compared with the 
women of Great Britain, Germany, and Switzerland, 
is shown in every organ and function— revealing it- 
self in the play of the eyes, in the voice, in the re- 
sponse of the facial muscles, in gait, and dress, and 
gesture. The European woman steps with a firmer 
tread than the American, and with not so much light- 
ness, pliancy, and grace. In a multitude, where both 
nations are represented, this difference is impressive. 
In the hourly operation of shaking hands one can tell, 
in some cases, the American woman of the higher 
order from a European, Swiss, or German, in the 
same rank. The grasp of the European woman is 
firmer and harder, as though on account of greater 
strength and firmness of muscle. In the touch of the 
hand of the American woman there is a nicety and 
tenderness that the English woman destroj's by the 
force of the impact. It is probable that the inter- 
esting and remarkable feat of muscle-reading, pop- 
ularly called " mind-reading," would not be so skill- 
fully and successfully performed by English as by 
American ladies, for the reason that they are physi- 
cally more delicate and nimble, and their suscepti- 
bility to external impressions far greater. 

There is, perhaps, no one test of both muscular 
and nervous susceptibility so delicate as this test of 
muscle-reading ; for in these experiments the operator 
—the so-called " mind-reader "—is blindfolded, takes 


the subject to be operated upon by tlie hand, and 
leads him to some minute spot or locality on which 
the subject's mind is concentrated ; and this is done 
oftentimes with a rapidity, a facility and a precision 
of movement that are almost beyond credence. In 
these experiments the operator's nervous system must 
be so susceptible as to detect the exceedingly minute 
and unconscious tension of the arm of the subject on 
whom he operates in the direction of the object on 
which his mind is concentrated ; and he must also 
detect the unconscious m\iscular relaxation when the 
locality is reached. All persons cannot attain this pre- 
cision ; but of the female sex there are many who by 
practice, perform at the seances with a success almost 
unfailing. This delusion of "mind-reading" was 
born in this country, and within the past few years. 
It may be rationally claimed that it could not have 
originated, or at least have attained so wide popular- 
ity in England, Germany, or Switzerland, since not 
enough could be found there who were capable of 
performing it to the amusement and astonishment of 
large audiences.* 

The physiological problem, whether the surface of 
the eye alone, independent of the muscles that cover 
and surround it, can express emotion, a near study 
Df the American girl seems to answer quite in the 

* See my paper, " Physiology of Mind-Reading," Popular 
Science Monthly, February, 1877. 


affirmative. The time that nerve-force takes in trav- 
ersing the fibres from centre to extremity is now 
mathematically measured, and it is known to vary 
with the individual, the temperament, and the sea- 
soiTT^wtth race, andT climate, and sex it must also 
vary; in the brain of the American girl thoughts 
tr avel by the express, in that of her European sister 
.by accommodation, 

America, if archaeology is to be trusted, is a mod- 
ern Etruria, the delicate features and fine forms of 
prehistoric Italy emerging from the entombment of 
ages and reappearing in a higher evolution in the 
Western hemisphere. 

Relation of Dress to Nervousness. 

The dress is the woman : all of female character 
is in the clothes for him who can read their lan- 
guage. The American girl of the higher order is ex- 
quisitely susceptible, is impressed by mild irritation 
acting upon any of the senses; she dresses in taste, 
and, where the means are at hand, with elegance, in 
colors that are quite subdued, and noticeable only at 
a short distance. 

A psychologist once asked me, " Why are bright 
colors beautiful in sunset, biit out of taste in dress ? 
Why should it be a sign of coai'se taste to dress one's 
self in the most brilliant colors, when all go to see 
an imposing sunset? " 


The answer is, that higher culture and sensitive 
nerves react to shght irritation; while low culture 
and insensitive nerves require strong irritation. 
Loudness of dress is, therefore, justly regarded as 
proof of coarseness of nerve-fibre. 

If we could clothe ourselves in sunsets ; if all this 
resplendency of crimson and scarlet and gold, and all 
these variations in hue and form could descend upon 
the delicate maiden, and fall about her in palpitating 
folds like a rich garment, the eye of that maiden and 
of those who gaze upon her would soon weary ; the 
irritation of such splendor would become a pang, and 
only be worn as a badge and sign of a nature in the 
lower stages of evolution. Bright-colored scarlet and 
red, so common in Switzerland and in certain parts 
of Germany, are never seen in America in any class. 
And, among men, the custom of wearing gorgeous 
and jewelled ajDparel in public assemblies, as at courts 
or on occasions of state, is a survival of the barbarian 
period through which all Europe with the rest of the 
modern world has passed, or is now passing. 

There is a fable that one day the most powerful 
of the fairies concluded to assist at the birth of 
women and assign to them the gifts which it was in 
the poM-er of each fairy to bestow upon each one of 
the new born. The English woman received her bril- 
liant color, the Italian woman her eyes, the Spanish 
her figure, the German woman her beautiful hair, 


the French woman her little foot and her chic. The 
fairies were going to leave, when a little thin voice 
was heard, and a little woman whom nobody had 
seen came and demanded her share. "Who are 
you ? " asked the queen of the fairies. 

" I am the Parisienne." 

"You will not have any special gift like your 
sisters, hut something from all the gifts of all the 
others." This was before the discovery of America. 
For the Parisienne can now be substituted the Ameri- 

Dentition, Puberty and Change of Life. 

Another evidence of the nervousness of our time 
is the difficulty which we experience in teething, at 
puberty, and change of life. These normal physio- 
logical processes in recent times, make so important 
a draft upon the nervous system that various sorts of 
illness result therefrom. During dentition, stomach 
and bowel difficulties arise ; at puberty chorea, chloro- 
sis, sick-headache and hysteria oftentimes appear; 
and at change of life, a vast array of cerebral symp- 
toms, and many of the above described symptoms of 
neurasthenia appear, and cause great disturbance, 
continuing sometimes for years. The system has 
an insufficient quantity of nervous force, and the 
draft which is made upon it by these processes ex- 
hausts it. 


Cholera infantum has a nervous factor in its 
causation, and it is pre-eminently an American dis- 
ease and is most prevalent during the excessive hea±g 
of our summer. 

Parturition, Nursing, and Diseases of Women. 

The process of parturition is everywhere the 
measure of nerve-strength. Had we no other barom- 
eter than this, we should know that civilization was 
paid for by nervousness, and that our cities are build- 
ed out of the life-force of their populations. 

I was consulted, not long ago, by a Spanish lady 
of middle life, who had children to the number of 
fourteen, and always was up and about on the fol- 
lowing day. 

A case of this kind, in private practice, I have 
never before seen ; certainly not among our in-door 
living classes. 

For our savage ancestors, parturition was but a 
trifle more exhausting, either in time or expenditure 
of nerve-force than an attack of vomiting. On the 
march, an Indian woman, when taken with the pains 
of labor, would delay the company but half an hour. 

All modern civilization demands prolonged rest 
for the parturient female ; and how many there are 
in our own land, for whom the conventional nine days 
is extended to double that time; how many, also, 
to whom the simple act of giving birth to a child 


opens the door to unnumbered woes ; beginning with 
lacerations and relaxations, extending to displace- 
ments and ovarian imprisonments, and ending by 
setting the whole system on fire with neuralgias, 
tremors, etc., and compelling a life-long slavery to 
sleeplessness, hysteria, or insanity. 

One of the most amazing of all sights on the Con- 
tinent of Europe and Ireland is that of the women 
toiling in the fields — mowing, raking, digging, driv- 
ing carts, chopping wood, carrying water, which the 
same class on landing in this country rarely if ever do. 
Custom, which is the resultant of many and hard- 
to-be-traced influences, in part explains this difference ; 
but in the second and third generations, the force of 
climate is potent and imperious. Our women cannot 
endure such exposure to heat or to cold, and soon 
become unable to bear the muscular strain that such 
labor makes necessary. The direst straits of poverty 
American women, even of direct German and English 
descent, will endure rather than labor at the hard, 
muscular employments of men. Subject a part of the 
year to the tyranny of heat, and a part to the tyranny 
of cold, they grow unused to leaving the house ; to 
live in-doors is the rule ; it is a rarity to go out, as 
with those of Continental Europe it is to go in. 

How many thousands of mothers there are who 
cannot, if they would, nurse their own infants, who 
have not sufficient milk for them, and who cannot 


bear the fatigue and drain upon the nervous system 
that nursing causes. It is not so much the dislike as 
the impossibility of nursing that makes wet nurses in 
such demand. So also the processes of gestation and 
child-bearing are borne in a most unsatisfactory way 
by large numbers iu American society. In a state of 
perfect or almost perfect health, these processes are 
physiological; but for the last half century, among 
the upper classes of this country, they have become 
pathological ; they have become signs of disease. 

Lacerations of the Woml) and Perineum. 

The large numbers of cases of laceration in child- 
birth, and the prolonged, and .sometimes even life- 
enduring illnesses resulting from them, are good rea- 
son for the terror which the process of parturition 
inspires in the minds of many American women to- 

The womb and perineum tear at childbirth be- 
cause they have ^previously been reduced, to the tearing 
point by general nervous exhaustion. 

When Dr. Fallen and Dr. Sims discussed this sub- 
ject of the laceration of the cervix at the last meet- 
ing of the British Medical Association, in Cambridge, 
and spoke of the operations of Emmet for the cure 
of that condition, the European surgeons expressed 
astonishment and doubt in regard to the frequency 
if not the existence or importance of the disease. 


Allowing for imperfect observation — the confounding 
of ulceration with laceration, it is probable that the 
disease is more frequent in American women, and also 
more likely to cause reflex constitutional disturbance 
among them. 

The difference between an average of a half- 
dozen children in a family, which obtained fifty years 
ago, and an average of less than four which obtains! 
now, is very great, and, abating certain obvious quali- 
fying facts, pretty accurately measures the child-bear- 
iug and child-rearing power of the woman of the past 
and the woman of to-day. But on this subject statis- 
tics are scarcely needed. Consider the large number 
of childless households, the many families that have 
but two or three children, or but one, and with them 
contrast the families that prevailed at the beginning 
of this century. The contrast, also, between the 
higher and lower orders in this respect, cannot, it 
would seem, be entirely explained by excess of pru- 
dence on the one hand, or want of it on the other. 

American children cry more than other children 
— ^they are more nervous, more fretful, more easily 
annoyed by heat, or by irritating clothing, by indiges- 
tible food, as well as by nervous and emotional influ- 
ences. The generalization that children in civihzation 
cry and worry more than children in savagery seems 
to be sustained by the experiences of all travellers 
who are trustworthy reporters on these matters. Thus 


Miss Bird — whose observations are always worthy of 
attention, and in the main, in harmony with facts — 
states in her work on " Unbeaten Tracks in Japan," 
that the children are more calm and quiet, and less 
troublesome than the children of higher civilizations. 

Travellers in Brazil make the same report in re- 
gard to the children of the dark or mixed races in 
that coimtry. In our own land the contrast be- 
tween the black and the white children in this respect 
is very noticeable indeed ; and that Indian children 
are cold, phlegmatic, and enduring is well known to 
all who have studied Indian life. 

Relation of Amerioan Oratory to American 

American oratory is partly the product of Ameri- 
can nervousness. For success in the loftier phases 
of oi-atory, fineness of organization, a touch of the 
nervous diathesis are essential; t he masters in th m 
oratorical art are always nerv ous : the same suscep- 
tibility that makes them^loquent,'^btile, and "per- 
suasive causes them to be timid, distrustful, and 
sometimes cowardly. We blame Cicero for the pusil- 
lanimity of his old age, and for his terror in the 
presence of death, and praise him for his spirit and 
force and grace in the presence of audiences, not 
thinking that the two opposite modes of conduct 
flowed from a single source. A nature wholly coarse 


and hard, with no thread or vein of nerve sensitive- 
ness, must always fail in the higher realms of the 
oratorio art, just as it must fail in all arts; every- 
where it is the fine organization that conquers. 

Jefferson, after acting his Eip Van Winkle for 
years, even now enters upon the stage at each per- 
formance with a feeling of responsibility; and of 
more than one orator has it been affirmed that he- 
always dreaded to speak. I know a clergyman of 
exceptional power, who has preached thousands of 
times, and yet who confesses to me that he can never 
eat at a dinner where he is announced to make one 
of his speeches. 

" Give me an army of cowards," said Wellington ; 
it is the man who turns pale in the face of the 
enemy that will fight to the death. This delicacy 
of organization, united with Saxon force, makes 
Amenca~nrattoTT of "OTator's:" The preacher whom all 
wHI alioAvtobe the greatest and boldest we have ever 
had in these States, admits that when he sees one 
whom he knows to be his enemy in his audience, the 
fire of his eloquence is at once extinguished ; and 
Gough, who has delivered eight thousand lectures, 
whose life has been spent in the presence of crowded 
assemblages, declares that he never goes on the plat- 
form without a certain anxiety lest he fail : he has 
not yet outgrown the school-boy's timidity. 

At a banquet in England I once sat next to a well- 


known man of science, wlio had been appointed to 
respond to one of the most important and difficult 
toasts of the occasion. We conversed on many 
themes, but I noticed a deepening anxiety in his 
manner, and before -his turn came he confessed to 
me that he would give one hundred pounds if he 
could be excused from speaking ; and knowing my 
interest in psychological studies he admitted that all 
the day long he had been apprehensive of the even- 
ing, and had even taken, without avail, a solitary row 
on a stream near-by, to divert and calm his mind. 
When he rose to respond, his manner was absolutely 
easy, and he spoke most elegantly and eloquently. 
Near us, also, there sat one of the speakers who is 
justly honored for his eloquence, and who is wont 
to prepare himself for important efforts by months 
of thought. This man likewise, it was easy to see, 
was nervous and anxious up to the moment that he 
was called upon, and only appeared collected and at 
home when he was doing that which he somewhat 
dreaded to do. The two best speeches of the even- 
ing were made by those who were most afraid of 

) Philosophy of American Humor. 

The power to create or to appreciate humor re- 
quires a fine organization. American humor, both in 
its peculiarities and in its abundance, takes its origin, 


in part, in American nervousness, 'itjs an inevit- 
able reaction from the excessive strain of mental and 
physical life; 'people who toil and worry less have 
"Tess need than we for abandonment — of nonsense, 
exaggeration, and fun. Both the supply of and de- 
mand for humor of a grotesque and exaggerated form 
are maintained by 'this increasing requirement for 
recreation; not the vulgar, the untrained alone, but 
the disciplined, the intellectual, the finely organized 
man and woman of position, dignity, responsibility 
and genius, of strong and solid acquisitions, enjoy 
and follow up and siistain those jmusements^ which 
are in our land so very common, and which are 
looked upon, and rightly so, as^American — ;such as the 
negro, minstrels .01^ experiments-Jn.. indnced. or.. meS: . 
meric trance. 

[" The Gilded Age," the most popular play ever 
written on this continent, owes its success to tliose 
elements of exaggeration and nonsense, of absurd- 
ity and grotesquesness, that made it fail in Great 
Britain.] Pinafore, popular as it was in Great Brit- 
ain, was incomparably more so in America, where 
great numbers of troupes were playing it simulta- 
neously, and in JSTew York five theatres kept it run- 
ning for weeks and months : its success at home was 
l)artly a reflex of its success here. In this country 
at present, no lecturer can attract very large crowds 
unless he be a humorist and makes his hearers 


laugh as well as cry ; and the lectures of the humor- 
ists — now a class by themselves — are more required 
than those of philosophers or men of science, or of 
fame in literature. Americans, who are themselves 
capable of originating thought in science or letters, 
scholarly, sober, and mature, prefer nonsense to science 
for an evening's employment ; and so, witli the in- 
crease of our nervousness and intelligence there has 
been a fading away in the popularity of the instruc- 
tive and dignified lecturers for whom our lyceums 
were first organized. | 

The American Language. 
* A new language is being evolved in this new 
worldj It was once held — perhaps is held even 
now, in England, by some — as a certain reproach 
against Americans, that they spoke a different lan- 
guage from that of their mother country. 

Criticism of this kind must come only from those 
who have studied but fractionally the psychology of 
language, and the , philosophy of its development. 
The American language is as necessary as the Ameri- 
can flag. As the English of England to-day differs 
from the English of England in the past, so must 
the American language differ from the language 
of England, and continue to diverge along certain 
lines, at least — more and more, with time and devel 


Language is a resultant of very numerous factors 
■working simultaneously or successively; and among 
these factors, climate, races, institutions, general and 
special, accidents of situation and of travel, of class, 
of war and peace, of industry and inventions, of 
wealth and the lack of it, are pre-eminent. Only 
by violating natural laws could Americans speak 
the English language as it is spoken in England. 
Every decade marks differences, subtractions, altera- 
tions — qualitive and quantitive — to the language 
which our fathers brought to these shores ; and with 
heightening sensitiveness there are at the same 
time changes in pronunciation, in articulation, in 
phraseology, as well as in the choice and handling 
of terms. Treatises and criticisms on Americanisms 
we have perhaps enough — and not without a con- 
siderable value ; but none of them would seem to 
give sufficient force to the study of the relation of 
language to nervousness, that is, to the effect of the 
nervous organization on our idioms, articulation, or 
lack or want of articulation. 

Nervousness causes us to clip woi'ds, to leaie^off 
or slide endings of words like «n^, the full §nd 
clear enunciation of which makes severe draughts 
on time and force. Yoltaire said of the English 
that in conversation of a day they would gain tw o 
houra over the Erench, because they used fewer 
vowels and more consonants, vowels requiring more 


time than consonants for their distinct articulation; 
an d an A merican can surely gain as much over the 
English as the English over the Erench by the use 
of compressed idioms, elisions, and the simple rapid- 
it y of utter ance. (The Americans effect much sav- 
ing of force, also, by allowing the voice to fall at the 
end of sentences, although those who listen must ex- 
pend more force if they would hear correctly. J 

I once attended, in company with Mr. A. C. 
Wheeler (Nim Crinkle), a matinee performance of 
our leading American actress, Clara Morris, in the 
powerful and emotional play of Cainille. It is 
well known on this side of the Atlantic, and not en- 
tirely unknown abroad, that .this actress is a repre- 
sentative of American female nervousness, and that 
she has suffered, and I believe still suffers at times, 
severe depressions and pains, so that only by stimu- 
lation and care and long rests is it possible for her 
to fulfil her parts. 

In studying her acting, at the performance re- 
ferred to, we both observed — as indeed we had both 
observed before, that while in the expression of 
strong emotion through the vowel sounds she was 
remarkable, even surpassing Bernhardt, she was very 
much inferior to the Erench actress in her average 
elocution, disregarding in a most wonderful way the 
consonant sounds, and so making it a difficult task 
to hear the lines. Eor an actress so famous and 


successful her elocution is phenomenally bad, and it 
is a result, in part, of her extreme deficiency in 
nerve-force ; unconsciously, no doubt, she expends 
the nervous energy that other actresses give to ar- 
ticulation in the spasmodic expression of feeling 
through the vowel sounds, and were she a better 
rhetorician she would be a less powerful actress, since 
her success is entirely in emotional characters, and 
it consists more of spontaneous and piercing out- 
bursts of emotion than in a uniform manifestation 
of art. In this respect this actress is a type of her 
sex in America, on and off the stage — a type, to a 
degree, of both sexes. 

The condition described by Mr. Eichard Grant 
White, as heterophemy (saying the opposite of what 
we mean), is probably more common in America 
than in Europe, although instances of it have been 
pointed out in the writings of some of the leaders 
of English hterature; as a symptom of disease and 
a result of brain exhaustion I have observed it in 
a number of cases; coming on or growing worse 
as the patient's brain-force diminishes. 

Rapidity of Speech and Pitch of Voice. 

The American speaks more rapidly than the 
European ; he makes more muscular movements of 
the larynx in a minute : in his nervousness he clips 
words, articulating indistinctly, and allowing his 


voice to fall at the end of a sentence, sometimes so 
as to be inaudible. The Englishman speaks more 
slowly, enunciates more clearly, says fewer words to 
a minute, and, as is well known, keeps the voice up, 
whore an American would let it fall. The American 
woman says more than the Englishwoman, is easier 
and more alert for converse, quicker to seize a deli- 
cate irony, more facile to respond to a suggestion, 
than the English lady in the same walk of life. I 
believe, also, that the English, Germans, and Swiss 
caimot hear as many words in a minute as Ameri- 
cans ; the auditory nerve and the brain behind it 
being incapable of receiving and co-ordinating as 
many sounds in a given time. Hence it is necessary 
to speak to them with more calmness and clearness, 
whatever language may be employed. 

The American voice is pitched higher than that 
of the European ; and it would appear that the 
pitch has been gradually rising during the past 
century. Our musical instruments, according to 
some authorities, are keyed higher than those of 
European manufacture. 

Greater susceptibility to Trance in America. 

Americans are, without question, more suscepti- 
ble to certain forms of trance than any other civil- 
ized people. As I have indicated in my writino-s 
on trance, tlie special variety known as induced 


trance is very much affected by the state of the 
atmosphere as well as by the general condition of 
the nervous system. Those who are very strong 
physically, are easily entranced, oftentimes ; but 
the influence of the weather is very apparent to 
any ono who studies the subject thoroughly, and 
makes experiments on large numbers of human 
beings at different times and seasons. I have ob- 
served, myself, that in dull, heavy, rainy, unpleasant 
weather, the phenomena of induced trance appear 
far more slowly, require more effort to develop 
them, are capricious, tricky, and uncertain ; and 
the subjects are more disposed to slide out of the 
conditions in which they are placed in the trance 
state, than when the weather is sparkling and clear. 
A dry atmosphere is favorable to the induction of 
trance states ; and a sensitive, nervous temperament 
— provided the psychology be favorable — is more 
likely to develop the higher manifestations of trance 
than the heavy and the dull. Hence it is that in 
the ISTorth-western sections of our country — in 
Minnesota and Iowa — where the air is not only ex- 
cessively dry, but frequently very cold, the propor- 
tion of persons who go into trance through the or- 
dinary manipulations and manoeuvrings employed is 
greater than on the sea-board, and greater, probably, 
than in the South. 

America is the only country, ancient or modem. 


in which large numbers of people make it a life- 
business to amuse people by trance exhibitions ; 
and those who have studied these exhibitions, as 
they are given by the best experts, well know that 
there is no form of evening amusement that can in 
any way be compared with them. All these phe- 
nomena are, it is true, known in Europe, and they 
have been known all over the world, some of them 
for centuries ! but what is here claimed is, that they 
are more easily obtained here, and the manifesta- 
tions are more certain and more interesting, partly 
because this" trance has been studied in America 
more thoroughly than in Europe. 

Change in Type of Disease. 

The question often agitated is, Whether diseases 
have changed their type in modern times ? This 
is a question which so far as chronic disease is con- 
cerned should not be discussed ; to raise it, is to an- 
swer it. There is no doubt that chronic diseases 
have changed their type in the last haH century. 
The only question is. What are the degrees of the 
change, and what are the causes which produce these 
results? Acute diseases, like pneumonia, may per- 
haps have been but little changed in type, but it 
is easily demonstrable that chronic nervous diseases 
have increased in recent periods, and that, witli 
this increase of nervous symptoms, there has been 


also an increase in tlie astlienic forms of disease, 
and a decrease in the sthenic forms ; and, corre- 
spondingly, that there has been a change in the 
methods of treatment of diseases ; neurasthenia — 
nervous susceptibility — has affected all, or nearly 
all, diseases, so that nearly all illnesses occurring 
among the better class of people — the brain-workers 
— require a different kind of treatment from that 
which our fathers employed for the same diseases. 

The four ways by which we determine these 
facts are — -first, by studying the literature of medi- 
cine of the past centuries ; secondly, by conversation 
with very old and experienced practitioners — men 
between the ages of seventy and ninety — who link 
the past with the present generation, and remember 
their own personal experience and the practice of 
medicine as it was fifty years ago ; thirdly, from our 
own individual experience and observation ; fourthly, 
by studying the habits and diseases of savages and 
barbarians of all climes and ages, and of the lower 
orders about us. Statistics on this subject are of 
very little value, for reasons that will be clear to 
those who are used to statistics, and who know how 
they can be handled. 

We do not bear blood-letting now as our fathers 
did, for the same reasons that we do not bear alco- 
hol, tobacco, coffee, opium, as they could. The 
change in the treatment of disease is a necessary 


result of the change in the modem constitution. 
The old-fashioned constitution yet survives in num- 
bers of people; and in such cases, the old treatment 
is oftentimes better than the modern treatment. 

The diseases of savages can be learned from 
books of travel and from conversations with travel- 
lers. Many of these books, it is tnie, are of a non- 
expert character, but some of them are written by 
physicians and scientific men of various degrees of 
eminence, whose observations, on a large scale, com- 
pared together, enable us to arrive at the approxi- 
mate truth. In the study of this subject, I have 
compared a very large number of books of travel, and 
I have arrived at this fact, in regard to which there 
can be no doubt whatever, namely, that nervous dis- 
ease of a physical character, scarcely exists among 
savages or barbarians, or semi-barbarians or partially 
civilized people. Likewise, in the lower orders in 
our great cities, and among the peasantry in the 
rural districts, muscle-workers, as distinguished from 
brain-workers — those who represent the habits and 
mode of life and diseases of our ancestors of the last 
century — functional nervous diseases, except those 
of a malarial or syphilitic character, are about as 
rare as they were among all classes during the last 
century. These people frequently need more vio- 
lent and severe purging, more blood-letting, more 
frequent blistering than the higher orders' would 


endure. If we would compare the nervous dis- 
eases of our time with those of the past, we have 
only to look about us among those classes of people 
whose temperaments take us back a half or three- 
quarters of a century ; in these classes such diseases 
as neurasthenia, heavy fever, sick-headache are veryl 
rare indeed; so that it is very difficult for a hospi- 
tal for nervous diseases to succeed in getting a suffi- 
cient number of patients of this character. On the 
other hand, hospitals for inflammatory and febrile 
diseases are enormously patronized among them. It 
is partly for this reason that the literature for ner- 
vous functional diseases is so poor and unsatisfac- 
tory ; our medical books and lectures are made up far 
too often of hospital, charity, and dispensary practice. 
In regard to the incapacity for observing, which 
has been so often charged upon all the physicians who 
were so unfortunate as to be born prior to the last 
half century, I may say, that even conceding the 
general truth of the charge, as applied to the mass 
of the profession, it certainly does not apply to all 
the great leaders in medical thought. The greatest 
medical minds of the last century were, to use the 
most measured language, the equals of those who 
lead the profession of our day, and were capable of 
observing, and did observe, and they recorded their 
observations; some of the grandest discoveries of all 
time were made by them. 


Syphilis growing milder. 

One reason, though not perhaps the only reason^ 
why syphilis is growing milder with civilization, is, 
without much question, as it seems to me, the in- 
creasing nervousness of our time. This disease, 
dreadful as it is and must always be, is not so hid- 
eous and revolting in its symptoms as it once was; 
independent of the treatment, before any treatment 
is used, its manifestations are less repulsive than 
"formerly, and they are less violent and obstinate 
<mong the higher than among the lower classes ; 
■■^philis, plus a nervous constitution, is a different 
disease from syphilis plus a strong phlegmatic con- 
stitution ; it has less to feed on, and like febrile 
and inflammatory diseases, is not so furious and 
dangerous in a sensitive organism as in a strong one. 

Nervous syphilis is apparently more common than 
it was ; indeed, it simulates in very many of its mani- 
festations the symptoms of neurasthenia, so that with- 
out the history of the case, it would be almost im- 
250ssible to make a sure differential diagnosis.* 

Nervousness increased hy Inheritance. 
Nervousness develops very rapidly iu our cli- 
mate, and, by the remoi'seless law of inheritance 

* The very able and original prize essay of Dr. C. L. Dana, 
of this city, on " The Benignity of Syphilis," is worthy of careful 
study in relation to this question. (See New York Medical 
Record, February 5, 1881.) 


soon becomes an element in tiie family history of 
recent importations. 

A very considerable poiiion of those whom I 
see professionally for nervous diseases of a functional 
character are descendants of parents who were born 
in- Germany, or some portion of Europe — descend- 
ants of ancestors who, in the old country, never 
knew what nervousness meant. I have never seen 
more severe cases of neurasthenia than some of this 
class. Some patients who were born in Europe, after 
a long residence here, themselves develop the full 
symptoms of nervous exhaustion. 

Intensity of Animal Life in America. 

In a paper of much interest on the Cosmopoli- 
tan Butterfly, a naturalist of Cambridge, Samuel Y. 
Scudder, has shown that among all the butterflies 
properly comparable on the two continents, there is 
no single instance where the European butterfly 
has more broods than the American. 

This author, speaking of the species of butter- 
fly called the V. Cardui, asserts that "all observ.- 
ers in Switzerland and Germany agree that it is 
single-brooded ; whereas, in New England it is double- 
brooded ; " and, on comparing the histories of several 
other and different species also, he derives the gen- 
eral law that animal life on this continent is more 
intense than in Europe. 



The causes of American nervousness are compli- 
cated, but are not beyond analysis: First of all 
modern^ civilization. The phrase modern civilization 
is used with emphasis, for civilization alone does 
not cause nervousness. The Greeks were certainly 
civilized, but they were not nervoiis, and in the 
Greek language there is no word for that term. 
The ancient Komans were civilized, as judged by 
any standard. Civilization is therefore a relative 
term, and as such is employed throughout this trea- 
tise. The modern differ from the ancient civiliza- 
tions mainly in these five elements — steam power, 
tire periodical press, the telegraph, the sciences, and 
the mental activity of women. When civilization, 
plus these five factors, invades any nation, it must 
carry nervousness and nervous diseases along with it. 

C'ivilization very limited in extent. 
All that is said here of American nervousness 
refers only to a fraction of American society ; for 


in America, as in all lands, the majority of tlie peo- 
ple are nrascle- workers rather than brain-workers ; 
have little education, and are not striving for honor, 
or expecting eminence or wealth. All our civiliza- 
tion hangs by a thread; the activity and force of 
the very few make us what we are as a nation ; 
and if, through degeneracy, the descendants of these 
few revert to the condition of their not very re- 
mote ancestors, all our haughty civilization would 
bewiped away. "With all our numerous colleges, 
such as they are, it is a rarity and surprise to 
meet in business relations with a college-educated 

A late writer, Dr. Arthur Mitchell, has shown 
that if, of the population of Scotland, a few thou- 
sands were destroyed or degenerated and their places 
unsupplied, the nation would fall downward to bar- 
barism. To a somewhat less degree this is true 
of all lands, including our own land. Of our fifty 
millions of population, but a few millions have \ 
reached that elevation where they are likely to be 
neiwous. In the lower orders, the classes that sup- 
port our dispensaries and hospitals, in the tenements 
of our crowded cities, and even on farms in the 
country, by the mountain side — among the health- 
iest regions, we find, now and then, here and there 
cases of special varieties of nervous disease, such as 
hay-fever, neurasthenia, etc. ; but the proportion of 


diseases of this kind among these people is much 
smaller than among the in-door-living and brain- 
working classes, although insanity of the incurable 
kind is more common among the lower or the middle 
than in. the very highest classes. 

Edison's electric light is now sufficiently advanced 
in an experimental direction to give us the best 
possible illustration of the effects of modern civil- 
ization on the nervous system. An electric machine 
of definite horse-power, situated at some central 
point, is to supply the electricity needed to run a 
certain number of lamps — say one thousand, more 
or less. If an extra number of lamps should be in- 
terposed in the circuit, then the power of the 
engine must be increased ; else the light of the 
lamps would be decreased, or give out. This ha 5 
been mathematically calculated, so that it is known, 
or believed to be known, by those in' charge, just 
how much increase of horse-power is needed for 
each increase in the number of lamps. In all .the 
calculations, however widely they may differ, it is 
assumed that the force supplied by any central 
machine is limited, and cannot be pushed beyond a 
certain point; and if the number of lamps inter- 
posed in the circuit be increased, there must be a 
corresponding increase in the force of the machine. 
The nervous system of man is the centre of the 
nerve-force supplying all the o]-gans of the body. 


Like the steam engine, its force is limited, although 
it cannot be mathematically measured— and, unlike 
the steam engine, varies in amount of force with 
tlie food, the state of health and external conditions, 
varies with age, nutrition, occupation, and number- 
less factors. The force in this nervous system 
can, therefore, be increased or diminished by good 
or evil influences, medical or hygienic, or by the 
natural evolutions — growth, disease and decline ; but 
none the less it is limited ; and when new functions 
are interposed in the circuit, as modern civilization 
is constantly requiring us to do, there comes a period, 
sooner or later, varying in different individuals, and 
at different times of life, when the amount of force 
is insufl[icient to keep all the lamps actively burn- 
ing ; those that are weakest go out- entirely, or, as 
more frequently happens, burn faint and feebly — 
they do not expire, but give an insufficient and un- 
stable light — this is the philosophy of modern ner- 

The invention of printing, the extension of 
steam power into manufacturing interests and into | 
means of conveyance, the telegraph, the periodical f 
press, the political machinery of free countries, the | 
religious excitements that are the sequels of Protes- 
tantism — the activities of philanthropy, made neces- 
sary by the increase of civilization, and of poverty, 
and certain forms of disease — and, more than all, 


perhaps, the heightening and extending complexity 
of modern education in and out of schools and 
universities, the inevitable effect of the rise of 
modern science and the expansion of history in all 
its branches — all these are so many additional lamps 
interposed in the circuit, and are supplied at the 
expense of the nervous system, the dynamic power 
of which has not correspondingly increased.* 

* The London Times, in an editorial article of much ability 
and interest, giving a resume of my researches in American ner- 
Tonsness, illustrates the philosophy here advocated very appro- 
priately, by the analogy of the steam engine. 

"The nervous system, as a. whole, is the immediate motor 
power of the human machine ; and in this machine it may be 
very roughly said that the steam generated in a single boiler 
works through the agency of scattered engines, technically called 
special nerve-centres, or ganglia, which are charged with the 
maintenance of particular functions. If one such engine is hard 
at work, and is therefore using a great deal of steam, so much the 
less will be available to support the activity of the rest. For all 
functions of primary importance to the existence of the human 
race there are engines coeval with the race itself in antiquity, 
which have been perfected by long exercise, and handed down 
from generation to generation in a state of gradually acquired 
stability and aptitude. Such, for example, are the nerve-centres 
which combine in harmonious action the very large number of 
muscles that are collectively subservient to the maintenance of 
the erect posture, or the smaller but very distinct group that 
governs the conjoined movements of the eyes. 

" When the progress of civilization calls for the performance 
of a new function, whether it be of body or mind, a new engine 
must be gradually provided for the purpose ; and this which be- 
comes developed in individuals long before it can be considered 
the common property of the race, will for a long period be infe- 
rior to move established centres in its power of endurance. Dr, 


Necessary Evils of Specialisation. 

One evil, and hardly looked for effect of tlie 
introduction of steam, together with the improved 
methods of manufacturing of recent times, has been 
the training in special departments or duties — so 
tliat artisans, instead of doing or preparing to do, 
all the varieties of the manipulations needed in the 
making of any article, are restricted to a few simple 
exiguous movements, to which they give their 
whole lives — in the making of a rifle, or a watch, 

Buzzard lias felicitously used these principles in explaining one of 
the causes of the disease called writer's palsy. The art of writing, 
measured by the antiquity of man, is only a thing of yesterday, 
and the special nervous engine which controls it is liable to de- 
rangements from which those of older formation are compara- 
tively exempt. In our own day, even when compared with quite 
recent times, there has been an enormous increase of brain-work, 
of education, of competition between educated people ; and there 
can be no doubt that we are living in the midst of a consequently 
greatly increased development of nervous tissue and of nervous 
force, a large share of which, in very many people, is applied to 
intellectual or other purposes which are more or less novel in 
their nature. In a certain number of such people, to continue the 
illustration, the engines most in use are those which are deficient 
in stability, while, at the same time, the individuals have no ex- 
cess of power for the maintenance of the activity of others. A 
man whose thinking centres are exerted to the full measure of 
their capabilities has no reserve of force to enable him to dis- 
pose of more food than he requires ; and he has either to find out 
how little he should live upon, and to live upon that little, or to 
pay a penalty in the shape of indigestion. He has no reserve of 
force with which to burn oif fat for the maintenance of his animal 
heat, and it is sound economy for him to live in a warm room, and 
to devote his energies to higher uses than those of a perambulat- 


each part is constructed by experts on that part. 
The effect of this exckisive concentration of mind 
and muscle to one mode of action, through months 
and years, is both negatively and positively perni- 
cious, and notably, so, when re-enforced, as it almost 
universally is, by the bad air of overheated and ill- 
ventilated establishments. Herein is one unantici- 
pated cause of the increase of insanity and other 
diseases of the nervous system among the laboring 
and poorer classes. The steam- engine, which would 
relieve work, as it was hoped, and allow us to be 
idle, has increased the amount of work done a 
thousand fold; and with that increase in quantity 

ing furnace. If he fails to surround himself by a sufficient 
external temperature, he will suffer from cold. In this way cer- 
tain forms of nervous disorder have been brought into what may 
be described as unnecessary prominence, and at the same time 
their relative prominence has been increased by the diminished 
frequency of many of the diseases which are caused by the neg- 
lect of obvious precautions or by the prevalence of unwholesoiue 
habits of living. There are fewer epidemics because, in spite of 
many shortcomings in our sanitary arrangements, the spreading 
of infectious diseases is hindered to a very real extent. There is 
less inflammation because people have learned, partially at least, 
the wisdom of taking proper care of their bodies. 

" Lastly, it must not be forgotten that the increase of nerve-force 
to which we have referred is an increase of the " boiler" power 
itself, and is therefore originally capable of being applied to any 
or all of the demands of the organism. When compared with "our 
ancestors, we are athletes, and we may be physical or intellectual 
athletes, as we please. 

" It is not given to ordinary humanity to reach a summit 
of ambition in more than one direction at once." 


there lias been a dift'ei-entiation of quality and 
specialization of function wliicli, so far forth, is 
depressing both to mind and body. In the profes- 
sions — the constringing power of specialization is 
neutralized very successfully by general culture and 
observation, out of which specialties spring, and 
by which they are supported ; but for the artisan 
there is no time, or chance, or hope, for such re- 
deeming and antidotal influences. 

ClocJes and Watches. — Necessity of Punctuality. 

The perfection of clocks and the invention of 
watches have something to do with modern ner- 
vousness, since they compel us to be on time, and 
excite the habit of looking to see the exact moment, 
so as not to be late for trains or appointments. 
Before the general use of these instruments of pre- 
cision in time, there was a wider margin for all 
appointments ; a longer period was required and 
prepared for, especially in travelling — coaches of 
the olden period were not expected to start like 
steamers or trains, on the instant — men judged of 
the time by probabilities, by looking at the sun, and 
needed not, as a rule', to be nervous about the loss 
of a moment, and had incomparably fe^ver expe- 
riences wherein a delay of a few moments might 
destroy the hopes of a lifetime. A nervous man 
cannot- take out his watch and look at it when the 


time for an appointment or train is near, witliout 
aifecting his pulse, and the effect on that pulse, if 
we could but measiire and weigh it, would be 
found to b.j correlated to a loss to the nervous 
system. Punctuality is a greater thief of nervous 
force than is procrastination of time. We are under 
constant strain, mostly unconscious, oftentimes in 
sleej)iEg as well as in waking hours, to get some- 
where or do something at some definite moment. 
Those who would relieve their nervousness may 
well study the manners of the Turks, who require 
two weeks to execute a promise that the Anglo- 
Saxon would fulfil in a moment. In Constantinople 
indolence is the ideal, as work is the ideal in 
London and New York ; the follower of the 
Prophet is ashamed to be in haste, and would 
apologize for keeping a promise. There are those 
who prefer, or fancy they prefer, the sensations of 
movement and activity to the sensations of repose; 
but from the standpoint only of economy of nerve- 
force all our civilization is a mistake ; every mile 
of advance into the domain of ideas, brings a 
conflict that knows no rest, and all conquests are 
to be paid for, before delivery often, in blood 
and nerve and life. "We cannot have civilization 
and have anything else, the price at which nature 
disposes of this luxury being all the rest of her 


The Telegraph. 

The telegraph is a cause of nervousness the po- 
tency of which is httle understood. Before the 
daj's of Morse and his rivals, merchants were far 
less worried than now, and less business was trans- 
acted in a given time ; prices fluctuated far lesj 
rapidly, and the fluctuations which now are trans- 
mitted instantaneously over the world were only 
known then by the slow communication of sailing 
vessels or steamships ; hence we might wait for 
weeks or months for a cargo of tea from China, 
trusting for profit to prices that should follow their 
arrival ; whereas, now, prices at each port are known 
at once all over the globe. This continual fluctua- 
tion of values, and the constant knowledge of those 
fluctuations in every part of the world, are the 
scourges of business men, the tyrants of trade — 
every cut in prices in wholesale lines in the smallest 
of any of the Western cities, becomes known in less 
than an hour all over the Union ; thus competition 
is both diffused and intensified. Within but thirty 
years the telegraphs of the world have grown to 
half a million miles of line, and over a million 
miles of wire — or more than forty times the circuit 
of the globe. In the TJnited States there were, in 
1880, 1Y0,103 miles of line, and in that year 33,155,991 
messages were sent over them. 


Effect of Noise on the Nerves. 

The relation of noise to nervousness and nef- 
vous diseases is a subject of not a little interest: 
Init one which seems to have been but incidentally 

The noises that nature is constantly producing — 
the moans and roar of the wind, the rustling and 
trembling of the leaves and swaying of the branches, 
the roar of the sea and of waterfalls, the singing of 
birds, and even the cries of some wild animals — are 
mostly rhythmical to a greater or less degree, and 
always varying if not intermittent ; to a savage or 
to a refined ear, on cultured or uncultured brains, 
they are rarely distressing, often pleasing, sometimes 
delightful and inspiring. Even the loudest sounds 
in nature, the roll of thunder, the howling of storms, 
and the roar of a cataract like Niagara — save in the 
exceptional cases of idiosyncrasy — are the occasions 
not of pain but of pleasure, and to observe them at 
their best men will compass the globe. 

Many of the appliances and accompaniments of 
civilization, on the other hand, are the caiises of 
noises that are unrhythmical, unmelodious and there- 
fore annoying, if not injurious ; manufactures, loco- 
motion, travel, housekeeping even, are noise-pro- 
ducing factors, and when all these elements are 
concentred, as in great cities, they maintain through 
all the waking and some of the sleeping hours an 


unintermittent vibration in the air that is more or 
less disagreeable to all, and in the case of an idio- 
syncrasy or severe illness may be unbeai-able and 
harmfuL Ehythmical, melodious, musical sounds are 
not only agreeable, but when not too long main- 
tained are beneficial, and may be ranked among our 
therapeutical agencies. 

Unrhythmical, harsh, jarring sounds, to which we 
apply the term noise, are, on the contrary, to a 
greater or less degree, harmful or liable to be harm- 
ful ; they cause severe molecular disturbance. 

In regard to this general subject of the relation 
of noises to the nerves these three general princi- 
ples are to be recognized ; 

1. That what is disagreeable may not of neces- 
sity be especially injurious to the health. 

2. That it is possible to adapt the system to 
noises that are at first disagreeable, so that they 
cease to have any Appreciable or at least demon- 
strable effect. 

3. That there may be idiosyncrasies against noises 
as against all other forms of irritation — as there may 
be idiosyncrasies against certain articles of food or 
drink, or against the various stimulants and narcotics 
or different articles on the materia medica. 

Although it is usually assumed that the dis- 
agreeable and the unhealthful are identical, although 
offensive odors in large cities have been regarded as 


nuisances in the eye of modern law, yet there is no 
scientiiic proof that there is any such necessary cor- 
relation. The odor of a tanyard is not only un- 
pleasant, biit enormously so ; one, at first, wonders 
that any human being could live, even for a day, 
in such an atmosphere; and yet investigations that 
I made a njimber of years ago convinced me that 
those who regularly worked in these yards were not 
in any perceptible way injured in health, and that 
their longevity compared favorably with that of 
other muscle-workers in the various trades. 

Likewise there are many vile odors in all our 
cities that are legislated against as nuisances, and 
for permitti) ■ which the members of the Board of 
Health of the city of New York were lately indict- 
ed, but which certainly cannot be proved to be in- 
jurious to health ; there is no evidence that they 
directly excite either acute or chronic disease, or 
that they tend to shorten life, although they are so 
disagreeable as to subtract largely from the comfort 
of those who are exposed to them. On the other 
hand, it is well established that the sewer sras and 
other poisons that give rise to most serious disease 
have little or no odor, and only make their presence 
felt by their eiiects. 

With disagreeable sounds the same principle, up 
to a certain point at least, applies; the rumble of 
omnibuses, the jangling of car-bells, and the clatter 


of many carriages, witla tlie tramping and shuffling 
of vast multitudes in our crowded streets, all jar on 
a sensitive frame; but whether they excite, in any 
considerable number of people, symptoms of either 
acute or chronic disorder, must be regarded as doubt- 
ful. That in connection with the bad air of cities 
and the confinement, they do tend to increase the 
nervousness of civilization is qixite probable, but any 
claim more definite than that cannot well be main- 

In case of illness or idiosyncrasy, however, it is 
quite different, for the evil effects of noise on those 
confined with grave or debilitating disease are often- 
times so speedy, direct, and severe that no doubt 
can be raised, and the cessation of the nuisance or 
the removal of the sufferer is an urgent need. 

This must without dispute be allowed, that one 
may have an idiosyncrasy against a certain form of 
sound just as against a certain odor, taste, or action 
of food or medicine. How painful the noise of 
filing a saw may be is well known ; but it is not so 
well known that this is but one of many noises 
that are specially offensive to individuals. The 
scraping of the foot on a corn cob or rubber mat 
is to some as painful as though a pin were stuck 
imj the skin; and at one time, when somewhat ex- 
hausted by overwork, the noise of the tearing of a 
newspaper was to myself unpleasant in the extreme. 


These peculiarities, however, are not necessarily the 
result of disease or symptomatic of any recognizable 
state ; they are found in the strongest and hardiest. 
One who for a number of years has been my guide 
in the White Mountains, a man of rare endurance 
and vigor, who in a long and laborious life has 
never known a day of real illness, tells me that the 
noise of the filing of a saw has always been exceed- 
ingly distressing. A professional gentleman whom 
I know, says that the noise of the elevated railway 
trains in ISTew York city are so harassing to him 
that he never goes on the avenue where these 
trains mn unless compelled to do so; the effect he 
declares is rasping, exasperating, amounting to posi- 
tive pain ; and yet this man is not only well, but 
is remarkably tough arid wiry, capable of bearing 
confinement and long and severe application. 

This elevated railroad, it may be observed, has 
been a convenient means of illustrating all the 
principles here brought forward in regard to the 
relation of noise to nerves. When first organized, 
during the heat of summer, while people lived with 
doors and windows open for the admission of air, 
tlie noise of the trains was a source of distress to 
all or nearly all, who lived on or very near the 
avenue and streets through which it passed; a 
new structure usually makes more noise than an 
old one, and this fact not being understood caused 


the complaints to be almost as loud as the noise. 
Those who were so unfortunate as to be confined 
to the house by any form of sickness in some 
cases suffered so severely that it was feared their 
lives would be sacrificed ; and some were obliged 
to dispose of their property and move away. 

The majority of the residents, however, in the 
course of a few months became so used to the din 
that, except when their attention was specially di- 
rected to it, it ceased to be painfully annoying ; 
they had adapted themselves to their environment ; 
the nervous system had become in a degree be- 
numbed, so that the vibrations striking on the ear 
gave rise to no conscious or rememberable sensation. 
This process of the moulding of the internal to the 
external was made mxich easier and shorter by the 
coming of cold weather, which closed the doors 
and windows; and by the fact that the structure of 
the road had been so affected by use that its vibra- 
tions were less rasping to the nerves. It would 
appear that the vibrations were both changed in 
quality and diminished in loudness, altliough so far 
as I know no scientific proof of this has ever been 

In some cases of idiosyncrasy it is probable that 
instead of adaptation to environment directly tiie 
reverse will take place, and the more the noise is 
heard the more distressing it will become. The 


analogy of liay-fever gives us a suggestion of tnith 
on this subject. In tliis malady there is usually an 
idiosyncrasy against some one or a number of vege- 
table or other irritants, as dust or roses, or certain 
fruits, as strawberries, or peaches, or grapes, or water- 
melons ; and this idiosyncrasy cannot be overcome 
by any effort of the will, and the sufferer, instead 
of getting used to any of these irritants by long 
dwelling among them, becomes thereby worse and 
worse ; and the only relief is to run away and 
escape the irritation ; the effect of a long ab- 
sence being in some cases to make the sensitive- 
ness less; avoidance of the irritant doing for them 
just what long subjection to it does for others. To 
sum up briefly, any irritation constantly or re- 
peatedly acting, may have two precisely opposite 
effects — it may benumb or it may increase the 
sensitiveness — this latter effect occurring chiefly in 
cases of idiosyncrasy. 

Railway Travelling and Nervousness. 

"Whether railway travelling is directly the cause 
of nervous disease is a question of not a little in- 
terest. Reasoning deductively, without any special 
facts, it would seem that the molecular disturbance 
caused by travelling long distances, or living on 
trains as an employe, would have an unfavorable 
influence on the nervous system. 


In practice this seems to be found ; that in some 
cases — probably a minority of those who live on the 
road — functional nervous symptoms are excited, and 
tliere are some who are compelled to give up this 
mode of life. 

A German physician has given the name " Fear 
of Railway Travelling," to a symptom that is ob- 
served in some who have become nervously ex- 
haiisted by long residence on trains; they become 
fearful of taking a journey on the cars, mainly 
from the unpleasant sensations caused by the vibrat- 
ing motions of the train. 

That railway travel, though beneficial to some, is 
sometimes injurious to the nerve system of the ner- 
vous, is demonstrable all the time in my patients ; 
many while travelling by rail suffer from the symp- 
toms of sea-sickness and with increase of nervousness.* 

Rapid Development and Acceptance of New Ideas. 

The rapidity with which new truths are discov- 
ered, accepted and popularized in modern times is a 
proof and result of the extravagance of our civiliza- 

Philosophies and discoveries a.s well as inventions 

which in the Middle Ages would have been passed 

by or dismissed with the murder of the author, are 

in our time— and notably in our country— taken up 

* See my work on Sea-sickness, last edition. 


and adopted, in innumerable ways made practical — ■ 
modified, developed, actively opposed, possibly over- 
thrown and displaced witliin a few years, and all of 
necessity at a great expenditure of force. 
' The experiments, inventions, and discoveries of 
Edison alone have made and are now making con- 
stant and exhausting draughts on the nervous forces 
of America and Europe, and have multiplied in 
very many ways, and made more complex and ex- 
tensive, the tasks and agonies not only of practical 
men, but of professors and teachers and students 
everywhere ; the simjolc attempt to master the 
multitudinous directions and details of the labors 
of this one young man with all his thousands and 
thousands of experiments and hundreds of patents 
and with all the soluble and insoluble physical prob- 
lems suggested by his discoveries would itself be 
a sufficient task for even a genius in science; and 
any high school or college in which his labors were 
not recognized and the results of his labors were 
not taught would be patronized only for those who 
prefer the eighteenth century to the twentieth. 

On the mercantile or practical side the promised 
discoveries and inventions of this one man have 
kept millions of capital and thousand of capitalists 
in suspense and distress on both sides of the sea. 
In contrast with the gradualness of thought move- 
ment in the Middle Ages, consider the dazzlino 


swiftness with whicli the theory of evolution and 
tlie agnostic philosophy have extended and solidified 
their conquests until the whole world of thought 
seems hopelessly subjected to their autocracy. I once 
met in society a young man just entering the sil- 
ver decade, but whose hair was white enough for 
one of sixty, and he said that the color changed in 
a single day, as a sign and result of a mental con- 
flict in giving up his religion for science. Many 
are they who have passed, or are yet to pass through 
such conflict, and at far greater damage to the 
nerve_ centres. 

Increase in Amount of Business in Modern 

The increase in the amount of business of nearly 
all kinds in modern times, especially in the last half 
century, is a fact that comes right before us when 
we ask the question. Why nervousness is so much 
on the increase ? 

Of business, as we moderns understand the term, 
the ancient world knew almost nothing ; the com- 
merce of the Greeks, of which classical histories 
talk so much, was more like play — ■ like our summer 
yachting trips — than like the work or commerce of 

Manufacturers, under the impulses of steam- 
power - and invention, have multiplied the burdens 


of mankind ; and railways, telegraphs, canals, steam- 
ships, and the utilization of steam-power in agri- 
culture, and in handling and preparing materials for 
transportation, have made it possible to transact a 
hundred-fold more business in a limited time than 
even in the eighteenth century ; but with an in- 
crease rather than a decrease in business transac- 
tions. Increased facilities for agriculture, manufac- 
tures, and trades have developed sources of anxiety 
and of loss as well as profit, and have enhanced 
the risks of business ; machinery has been increased 
in quantity and complexity, some parts, it is true, 
being lubricated by late inventions, others having 
the friction still more increased. 

Dr. Mosso, of Turin, Italy, has invented an ap- 
paratus, of simple construction, by which it is pos- 
sible to prove that even a slight excitement of the 
brain causes increased circulation in it. The instm- 
ment consists in glass vessels large enough to hold 
a man's outstretched hand, in which there is an 
orifice in which the arm of the person to be experi- 
mented on is placed, so that the warm water with 
which the vessel is filled cannot escape, the water 
being connected with a thin glass tube like a ther- 
mometer, which shows the least rising or falling in 
the circulation of the arm. Experiments show that 
when a person has his attention attracted even 
slightly — as by the reading of a book or paper— the 


bulk of the blood in his arm diminishes ; and the 
inference is that correspondingly the bulk of the 
blood in the brain increases. 

With this experiment before us, let us consider 
the heiglitened activity of the cerebral circulation 
whicli is made necessary for a business man since' 
the introduction of steam-power, the telegraph, the 
telephone, and the morning newspaper. 

Buying on a Margin vs. Gambling. 

The custom of buying on a margin that has late- 
ly grown so much in popularity is more exciting 
to the nervous system than ordinary gambling, 
which it in a measure displaces, in these two re 
spects — ■ 

First, the gambler risks usually all that he has; 
while the stock buyer risks very much more than 
he has. 

Secondly. The stock buyer usually has a certain 
commercial, social, and religious position, which is 
thrown into the risk, in all his ventures ; whereas, 
the ordinary gambler has nothing to lose but his 

For these reasons it is quite clear that gambling — 
formerly far more prevalent than now — is less per- 
nicious in its action on the nervous system, than 
buying stocks on a margin. 


Increased capacity for Sorrow — Love and Phi- 

Capacity for disappointment and sorrow lias in- 
creased with tlie advance of civilization. Fineness 
of organization, wliicli is essential to the develop- 
ment of the civilization of modern times, is accom- 
panied by intensified mental susceptibility. 

In savagery, life is mostly sensual, with much 
mental force held in reserve, as with l^orth Ameri- 
can Indians, while the intellect has but slight 
strength ; in a highly civilized people, some of the 
senses and all the emotions are quickly excited, and 
are attended nvith higher, sweeter, and more com- 
plex and rapturous pleasure than in savagery, and 
but for the controlling and inhibiting force of a 
better trained reason, would make progress, and 
even existence, in civilization, impossible. Relatively 
to the intellect, the savage has more emotion than 
the civilized man, but in absolute quantity and 
quality of emotion, the civilized man very far 
surpasses the savage ; although, as the civilized 
man is constantly kept in check by the inhibitory 
power of the intellect, he appears to be far less 
emotional than the savage, who, as a rule, witli 
some exceptions, acts out his feelings with com- 
paratively little restraint. The civilized 'man enjoys 
his food better than the barbarian; has vastly more 
complex modes of cookery, and appreciates, when 


in health, nice distinctions in what he eats, far more 
than is possible to the savage. 

Of the poetry of love, as distinct from the physi- 
cal type, the lower savages know nothing — their 
friendships, their married life, their home life with 
their offspring, show but fugitive traces of that 
enormous and tyrannous emotion out of which all 
our novels, romances, and dramas are builded. This 
potency of loving, including not only sexual, but 
filial, brotherly and sisterly affection, in all its ranges 
and ramifications, is a later evolution of human 
nature ; like all other emotions, it is matched by a 
capacity for sorrow corresponding to its capacity 
for joy. Love, even when gratified, is a costly emo- 
tion ; when disappointed, as it is so often likely to 
be, it costs still more, drawing largely, in the grow- 
ing years of both sexes, on the margin of nerve- 
force, and thus becomes the channel through which 
not a few are carried on to neurasthenia, hysteria, 
epilepsy, or insanity. 

Jealousy is the shadow of love and like other 
shadows greater than the original; it deepens and 
widens and lengthens with increasing refinement. 

Organized philanthropy is wholly modern, and is 
the offspring of a higher evolved sympathy wedded 
to a form of poverty that could only arise out of 
the inequalities of civilization. Philanthropy that 
is sincere suffers more than those* it hopes to save; 


for while " charity creates much of the misery that 
it relieves, it does not relieve all the misery that 
it creates." 

I Mejpression of Einotion. 

One cause of the increase of nervous diseases 
is that the conventionalities of society require the 
emotions to be repressed, while the activity of bur 
civilization gives an unprecedented freedom and 
oppoi-tunity for the expression of the intellect ; the 
more we feel the more we must restrain our feel- 
ings. This expression of emotion and expression 
of reason, when carried to a high degree, as in the 
most active nations, tend to exhaustion, the one by 
excessive toil and friction, the other by restraining 
and shutting up within the mind those feelings 
which are best relieved by expression. Laughter 
and tears are safety-valves ; the savage and the 
child laugh or cry when they feel like it — and it 
takes but little to make them feel like it ; in a 
high civilization like the present, it is not polite 
either to laugh or to cry in public ; the emotions 
which would lead us to do either the one or the 
other, thus turn in on the brain and expend them- 
selves on its substance; the relief which should 
come from the movements of muscles in lauo-hter 
and from the escape of tears in crying is denied 
us ; nature will not, however, be robbed • her 


must be paid and the force which might be ex- 
^pended in muscular actions of the face in laugh- 
ter and on the whole body in various movements 
reverberates on the brain and dies away in the 
cei-ebral cells. 

Constant inhibition, restraining normal feelings, 
keeping back, covering, holding in check atomic 
forces of the mind and body, is an exhausting pro- 
cess, and to this process all civilization is constantly 

A modern philosopher of the most liberal school, 
states that he hates to hear one laugh aloud, re- 
garding the habit, as he declares, a survival of bar- 

Domestic and Financial TrovMe. 

Family and financial sorrows, and secret griefs 
of various kinds, ai-e very commonly indeed the 
exciting cause of neurasthenia. In very many cases 
where overwork is the assigned cause — and where 
it is brought prominently into notice, the true 
cause, philosophically, is to be found in family broils 
or disappointments, business failures or mishaps, 
or some grief that comes very near to one, and, 
rightly or wrongly, is felt to be very serious. 

The savage has no property and cannot fail; he 
has so little to win of wealth or possessions, that 
he has no need to be anxious. If his wife does not 


suit he divorces or murders her ; and if all things 
seem to go wrong he hills himself. 

/ Politics and Religion. 

There are two institutions that are almost dis- 
tinctively American — political elections and relig- 
ious revivals ; for although in other countries both 
these institutions exist, yet they are far less numer- 
ous and far less exacting, and have far less influ- 
ence than in America. Politics and religion appeal 
mostly to the emotional nature of men, and have 
little to do with the intellect, save among the lead- 
ers ; and in consequence, the whole land is at times 
agitated by both these influences, to a degree which, 
however needful it may be, is most exciting to the 
nervous temperament.^ 

J Liberty as a Cause of Nei'vousness. 

A factor in producing American nervousness 
is, beyond dispute, the liberty allowed, and the 
stimulus given, to Americans to rise out of the posi- 
tion in which they were born, whatever that may 
be, and to aspire to the highest possibilities of for- 
tiine and glory. In the older countries, the exist- 
ence of classes and of nobility, and the general con- 
texture and mechanism of society, make necessary 
so much strenuous effort to rise from poverty and 
paltriness and obscurity, that the majority do not 


attempt or even think of doing anything that their 
fathers did not do : thus trades, employments, and 
professions become the inheritance of families, save 
where great ambition is combined with great powers. 
There is a spirit of routine and spontaneous con- 
tentment and repose, which in America is only 
found among the extremely unambitious. In travel- 
ling in Europe one is often amazed to find indi- 
viduals serving in menial, or at least most undig- 
nified positions, whose appearance and conversation 
show that they are capable of nobler things than 
they will ever accomplish. In this land, men 
of that order, their ambition once aroused, are far 
more likely to ascend in the social scale. Thus it 
is that in all classes there is a constant friction and 
unrest — a painful striving to see who shall be high- 
est ; and, as those who are at the bottom may soon 
be at the very top, there is almost as much stress 
and agony and excitement among some of the lowest 
orders as among the very highest. 

Consider how much nerve-force the American 
people have expended in carrying through our late 
nominations and elections. 

Last June, just after the nominations were made, 
I was in Cleveland, assisting in organizing a na- 
tional association for the protection of the insane, 
and in my address I referred to the campaign for 
the nominations as one of the reasons why we 


needed such an organization. To-day, just after the 
inauguration, those whose minds are philosophically 
bent, may well occupy themselves with making an 
estimate of the cost in brain and nerve of these 
months of excitement and disappointment ; for it is 
the very essence of politics to disappoint those who 
have to do with it, and disappointment, like love, 
is one of the most expensive of human emotions. 

Before the late election one of my patients in- 
formed me, to my alarm, that he was getting inter- 
ested in politics. He had been treated most suc- 
cessfully for nerve troubles, two years ago, and had 
been put into working order, and had been able to 
work hard ; but I knew that, like most of his class, 
he was living on a small reserve of nerve-force. He 
said that great issues were before us, and the neg- 
lect of politics on the part of intelligent men was 
the ruin of their nation. I said to him : " My friend, 
presidents and politicians are chips and foam on the 
surface of the sea ; they are not the sea ; tossed up 
by the tide and left on the shore, but they are not 
the tide ; fold your arms and go to bed, and most of 
the evils of this world will correct themselves, and, of 
those that remain, few will be modified by anything 
that you or I can do." To this advice he, of course, 
paid no heed, and a day or two before the election 
came to my office, entirely prostrated, and confessed 
a most interesting fact — that five minutes' conversa- 

fcion on politics had tal^en all his nerve from him, 

doing more to exhaust him than months of steady 
work. He was a Hancock man, and the unpleasant- 
ness of defeat supplemented the discussions and elec- 
tioneerings of a long campaign, doing more of evil 
for him than he had done of good to his country. 

Take that case, which is not an exception, hut 
a type of others in varying degrees; multiply it by 
thousands and thousands of thousands ; add to it a 
million of our citizens whose existence depends, 
near or remotely, on the victory or failure of par- 
ties, and who must work all through their lives 
on the treacherous edge of precipices ; pile on the 
infinite wranglings and controversies, public and 
family, of these months that the nation believed to 
be a crisis in its life : throw in the concentrated 
agony of half our population on the morning fol- 
lowing election and the long-drawn-out disappoint- 
ments of the coming years; then need we ask if 
there is any mystery in American nervousness, even 
to those who reject every other accredited cause? 
The experiment attempted on this continent of 
making every man, every child, and every woman 
an expert in politics and theology is one of tlie 
costliest of experiments with living human beings, 
and has been drawing on our surplus energies with 
cruel extravagance for one hundred years. 

Protestantism, with the subdivision into sects 


which has sprung from it, is an element in the 
causation of the nervous diseases of our time. 

No Catholic country is very nervous, and partly 
for this — that in a Catholic nation the burden of 
religion is carried by the church. In Protestant 
countries this burden is borne by each individual 
for himself ; hence the doubts, bickerings, and an- 
tagonisms between individuals of the same sect and 
between churches, most noticeable in this land, where 
millions of excellent people are in constant disagree- 
ment about the way to heaven. 

The difference between Canadians and Ameri- 
cans is observed as soon as we cross the border, the 
Catholic church and a limited monarchy acting as 
antidotes to neurasthenia and allied affections. Prot- 
estant England has imitated Catholicism, in a mea- 
sure, by concentrating the machinery of religion and 
taking away the burden from the people. It is stated 
— although it is supposed that this kind of statistics 
are unreliable — that in Italy insanity has been on the 
increase during these few years in which there has 
been civil and religious liberty in that country. 

If this statement could be mathematically proved 
— as probably it cannot, in the face of so many 
sources of error to complicate the calculations - — it 
would be a vigorous illustration of the philosophy 
here inculcated. Certain enough it is that, if such 
statement were proved to be true, it -would be in 


unison with all that we know of the increase ot 
insanity in those countries which have the most civil 
and religious liberty. 

There would seem to be evidence that, among 
the negroes of the South insanity has increased, to 
a certain degree, since their liberation. 

The anxieties about the future, family, property, 
etc., are certainly so wearing on the negro, that some 
of them, without doubt, have expressed a wish to 
return to slavery. 

This very year (1881) a bill has been intro- 
duced into the liouse of Eepresentatives in "Wash- 
ington, for a government commission to investigate 
t!ie causes of the increase of insanity, or, more 
sjjecifically, to empower the National Board of 
Health to undertake that task. Although advances 
in science are not usually made by committees — in- 
deed, are almost never made by them, least of all 
by government committees — yet the offering of 
such a resolution is a suggestion of an advance in 
the popular interest in one of the great questions 
of this age or of any age. 

In this department of science, as in all depart- 
ments of organized knowledge, the discoveries and 
advances must be made by young men, working 
obscurely and alone, and all that committees of con- 
gress or health boards can do is, to diffuse what 
these young men have already discovered. 


The people of this country have been pressed 
constantly with these three questions : How shall 
we keep from starving ? Who is to be the next 
president? And where shall we go when we die? 
In a limited, narrow way, other nations have met 
these questions; at least two of them, that of star- 
vation and that of the future life ; but nowhere in 
ancient or modern civilization have these three 
questions been agitated so severely or brought up 
with such energy as here. In European civilizations 
accumulated family wealth has put the first prob- 
lem, that of getting a living, fairly aside ; whereas, 
in our country, until the past quarter of a century, 
the poor-house has been a life-long apprehension. 

Consider the difference of expenditure of nerve- 
energy between a person who, always from the 
mother's arms to the tomb, has not had a thought 
for money, and one, otherwise similarly situated, 
who must always hasten and toil, lest he starve. 

Habit of Fo7'ethought. 

Much of the exhaustion connected with civiliza- 
tion is the direct product of the forethought and fore- 
worry that makes civilization possible. In coming 
out of barbarism and advancing in the direction of 
enlightenment the first need is care for the future. 

There is a story of an American who, on going 
to an Italian bootmaker to have some slight job 


performed, was met with a refusal to do the work 
required. On being asked why he refused, he re- 
plied that he had enough money to last him that 
dd.3'^ and that he did not care to work. " Yes," 
said the American, " but how about to-morrow ? " 
" Who ever saw to-morrow ? " was the Italian's 

Those who live on the philosophy suggested by 
that question, can never be very nervous. This 
forecasting, this forethinking, discounting the fu- 
ture, bearing constantly with us not only the real 
but imagined or possible sorrows and distresses, and 
not only of our own lives but those of our families 
and of our descendants, which is the very esseiieo 
of civilization as distinguished fi'om barbarism, 
involves a constant and exhausting expenditure of 
force. Without this forecasting, this sacrifice of 
the present to the future, this living for our pos- 
terity, there can be no high civilization and no 
great achievement ; but it is, perhaps, the chief 
element of expense in all the ambitious classes, in 
all except the more degraded orders of modern 
society. We are exhorted, and on hygienic grounds 
very wisely, not to borrow trouble — but were there 
no discounting of disappointment, there would be 
no progress. The barbarian borrows no trouble; 
stationary people, like the Chinese, do so but to a 
slight degree ; they keep both their nerve-force 


and their possibilities of progress in reserve. Those 
wlio have acquired or have inherited wealth, are 
saved an important percentage of this forecasting 
and fore-worry ; like Christian, they throw ofE the 
burden at the golden gate, but, . unlike Christian 
part of it they must retain ; for they have still the 
fear that is ever with them of losing their wealth, 
and they have still all the ambitions and possible 
disappointments for themselves and for their chil- 

/ On the highly civilized man there rests at all 
times a three-fold burden — the past, the present, 
and the future ! the barbarian carries through life 
but one burden — that of the present; and, in a psy- 
chological view, a very light one indeed ; the civil- 
ized man is ever thinking of the past — represent- 
ing, repeating, recasting, and projecting the expe- 
riences of bygone days to days that are to come. 
The savage has no future, and but little of the past, 
and that little is usually pleasant, and not burden- 
some. ) 

The difference between civilization and savagery, 
and an impressive and instructive illustration of the 
cause of nervousness, is given us whenever any rep- 
resentatives of our Indian tribes visit the east. The 
utter want of curiosity in matters that do not come 
immediately home to them is a feature in their char- 
acter most noticeable and most interesting, contrasting, 


as it does with the excess of Yankee curiosity. / The 
barbarian cares nothing for the great problems of 
life ; seeks no solution — thinks of no solution of the 
mysteries of nature, and, after the manner of many 
reasoners in modern delusions, dismisses what he can- 
not at once comprehend, as supernatural, and leaves 
it unsatisfactorily solved for himself, for others, and 
for all time \\ the cariosity of the Yankee, which, 
when harnessed, trained, and held in clieck, becomes 
the parent of invention, science, and ideas, inqiiiring 
into everything with eagerness, unrest, impatience, 
palpitating anxiety and breathlessness, draws heavily 
on the units of nerve-force. 

The ISTorth American barbarian is not peculiar 
in his indifference to nature's mysteries ; this fea- 
ture is but a type of the barbarian and immature 
mind everywhere, the Indians of South America 
and Central America — the negroes of Africa and of 
our own country, young children everywhere, and 
adults who have never matured in the higher ranges 
of intellect are, in this respect — in varying degrees 
— like the Indians of the "Western plains, living 
not for science or ideas, but for the senses and 

Formal attempts are now being made to educate 
and civilize the Indians, and, at the present mo- 
ment, with not success enough to warrant any fear 
less they should become specially nervous ; but were 


tlie scheme to be carried forward in triumph, and 
the Indian develop into a thinker, questioner, and 
holder of property, with all the cai-e, economy, and 
forecasting that property requires, then we shall see 
correspondingly, a development of nervousness in 
the Indians, if not in this generation, in those that 
are to come. 

The very few cases of insanity among Indians 
that I have been able to trace or get account of, 
are among those who have been brought into close 
relations with the whites, and some of them were 
of purely religious origin. 

Single instances illustrate the predominance of 
civilization as a factor in the causation of nervous- 
ness over all other secondary and tertiary factors in 
a most convincing way. Thus, one who while liv- 
ing in-doors and carrying on some brain-harrying 
occupation, and who cannot smoke, or drink, or eat 
any but the plainest and most easily managed food, 
and who, despite all his cares, is always suffering 
through, perhaps, the whole range of his nervous 
system, if he but plunge into the forest, or even 
from the city into the country toward any point of 
the compass, shall find himself another person, within 
perhaps, less than twenty-four hours, and in a few 
days or weeks can eat the most indigestible food 
with a disregard of time or method, use tobacco and 
alcohol freely as the impulse jD^eases, bear strong 


exertions of mountain climbing or sport; in short 
leading the life of a barbarian, he has the barba- 
rian's health, and he finds not the. alcohol nor to- 
bacco, nor food, singly or unitedly, have made him. 

The human system in its animal state, before 
modern civilization appeared, was .capable of bear- 
ing greater strain in all its functions without ap- 
preciable harm. He who has a constitution that 
requires watching and tenderness and anxious cau- 
tion, that resents every over-indulgence of irregular- 
ity or disobedience to the law, has a very poor con- 

Comparative Size of the Ancient and Modern 

Little account has been made of the fact that 
the old world is small geographically. The ancient 
Greeks knew only of Greece and the few outside 
barbarians who tried to destroy them. The dis- 
covery of America, like the invention of printing, 
prepared the way for modern nervousness ; and, in 
connection with the telegraph, the railway, and the 
periodical press increased a hundred-fold the dis- 
tresses of humanity. 

The sorrows of any part of the world, many 
times greater geographically than the old world 
as known to the ancients, through the medium of 


the press and the telegraph are made the sorrows of 
individuals everywhere. 

The burning of Chicago — a city less than half a 
century old, on a continent whose existence was un- 
known a few centuries ago — becomes in a few hours 
the property of both hemispheres, and makes heavy 
drafts on the vitality not only of Boston and New 
York, but of London, Paris, and Vienna. "With 
the extension and complexity of populations of the 
globe, with the rise and growth of nations and peo- 
ples, these local sorrows and local horrors become 
daily occasions of nervous disorders. 

Our morning newspaper, that we read with our 
breakfast, has the history of the sorrows of the whole 
world for a day ; and a nature but moderately sym- 
pathetic is robbed thereby, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, of more or less nervous strength. 

The railroads of the world measure, 200,000 
miles, all but -^^ portion being divided between 
Europe and America; and over these roads pass 
66,000 locomotives, 120,000 passenger and 1,500,000 
freight cars. On the seas there are 100,000 vessels 
and 12,000 steamers with a tonnage of 20,000,000. 
In proportion to population, Americans write far the 
most letters; next comes the English; then Switzer- 
land, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, 
France, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Hungary, Italy, 
Portugal, Greece, Russia, Servia, Eoumania, Turkey. 


Letter writing is an index of nervousness; those 
nations who writes the most letters being the most 
nervous, and those who write scarcely at all, as the 
Turks and Eussians, knowing nothing or but very 
little of it. 

Life in Ancient Athens and New York con- 

When we consider the life of an American child, 
from its early school-days until the hour it leaves 
the university or seminary, the many and tiresome 
hours of study, the endless committing and repeat- 
ing and reciting, the confinement in constrained 
positions, the overheated and overdried atmosphere, 
the newspapers and novels that he is and must be 
prepared to criticise, the sermons and lectures which 
he is compelled to listen to and analyse, the strife 
and struggle for bread and competence against in- 
flammatory competition, the worry and concentration 
of work made both possible and necessary by the 
railway, mail service, and the telegraph ; in view of 
these facts, we wonder not that the Americans are 
so nervous, but rather wonder at the power of 
adaptation of the human frame for unfavorable en- 
vironment. The education of the Athenian boy 
consisted in play and games and songs, and repeti- 
tions of poems, and physical feats in the open air. 
His life was a long vacation, in which, as a rule, 


he rarely toiled as hard as the American lad in the 
intervals of his toil. 

All that the world has done for two thousand 
years — all the history it has made, all its art, science, 
religion, politics, morals, and social life, the Greek 
boy could know nothing of, could not even antici- 
pate ; the world to him was young, and Greece 
was all the world. ITo scholar can graduate with 
even a moderate stand from one of our public 
schools, without mastering in a certain way, and 
after years of labor, many of the good or evil 
thoughts and deeds that have occupied the human 
race since the time of Socrates and Aristotle. 
From' all these events of history, which every yeai 
are rolling up as an increasing burden for the 
future, the Athenian scholar was joyously free; 
education was to him but a delicious union of 
poeti-y, philosophy, and art. What they called, 
work, gymnastics, competition games, and conversa- 
tions on art and letters, is to us recreation. Equally 
striking is the contrast in the life of Athenian and 
American adults. We have our occasional holidays, 
and a picnic or other pleasure party is cautiously 
allowed, or some anniversary is celebrated ; but the 
Greek's life was a long holiday, a perpetual picnic, 
a ceaseless anniversary. 

The Greek wife was half a doll, half a slave. 
Save a few of the more brilliant among the etairat 


— the demi monde of the time — they had no more 
voice in the interests of state, or art, or learning, 
or even of social life, than the children of to-day; 
the mental activity of woman is indeed almost all 
modern. The American mother is not only the 
acknowledged queen of society, but also aims to 
lead, and oftentimes does lead, with the highest suc- 
cess, in literature, on the • platform, in the puljjit, 
in philanthropy and reform, and in the practice 
of The medical art. 

The offspring of those vrhose brains are thus 
kept in constant motion must be affected for better 
or for worse, sometimes in both ways. If the brain 
of the average American is tenfold more active 
than the brain of the average Athenian, the con 
trast in the cerebral activity of the women must 
be even greater. But waiving all attemjDts to bring 
the subject under mathematical law, these contrasts 
make clear, and bring into strong relief, the fact 
that in every direction the modern brain is more 
heavily taxed than the ancient. In accordance with 
all analogies, therefore, nervous sensitiveness and 
nervous diseases ought to increase with the progress 
of modern civilization ; and neurasthenia would 
naturally be more abundant in the present than in 
the last century. 

It might theoretically be objected to this reason- 
ing that the capacity of the brain for work, and of 


the nerves for endurance, would grow with the 
growth of culture. This consideration is surely 
one of import. Up to a certain point work de- 
velops capacity for work; through endurance is 
evolved tlie power of greater endurance; force 
becomes the parent of force. But here, as in all 
animate nature, there are limitations of development 
which cannot be passed. The capacity of the ner- 
vous system for sustained work and worry has not 
increased in proportion to the demands for work 
and worry that are made upon it. Particularly 
during the past quarter of a century, under the 
press and stimulus of the telegraph and railway, 
the methods and incitements of brain-work have 
multiplied far in excess of average cerebral develop- 
ment. It is during this period that various func- 
tional nervous disorders have multiplied with a 
rapidity for which history gives us no analogy. 
Modern nervousness is the cry of the system strug- 
gling with its environment. ; 

Extre-mes of Heat and Cold. 

Wlien we wish to obtain a powerful stimulating 
effect on any part of the body, we apply, in rapid 
alternation, ice and hot water : used for a short 
time, this application strengthens ; used for a long 
time, it weakens. What the temporary effect of an 
alternation of heat and cold to the whole body may 


be, every one who has taken a Turkish or Eussian 
bath well knows, and what the general effect of 
such baths kept up constantly, or for a large part 
of the time, may be, one can without difficulty 
imagine ; there are, indeed, constitutions that cannot 
take even a short bath without fainting or weari- 
ness. The inhabitants of the Northern and Eastern 
portion of the United States are subjected to 
s'everer and more sudden and frequent alternations 
of extreme heat and cold than the inhabitants of 
any other civilized coiintry. Our climate is a union 
of the tropics and the poles : " half the year we 
freeze, half the year roast," and at all seasons a day 
of painful cold is liable to be followed by a day of 
painful warmth. Continuous and uniform cold as 
in Greenland, like continuous and uniform heat as 
on the Amazon, produces enervation and languor; 
but repeated alternations of the cold of Greenland 
and the heat of the Amazon produce energy, rest- 
lessness, and nervousness. The climate of England 
and the Continent differs from that of America, 
in respect to uniformity, far more than is usu- 
ally recognized even by those who have passed 
years abroad : of the cold of our winters, of the 
heat of our summers, England has but little expe- 
rience. Invalid travellers who, as is the case with 
many Americans, are sensitive to cold complain that 
from the time they leave America to the time 


of their return they never know what it is to 
be really warm. A clerical friend of mine, who 
resided several years in England, tells me that 
lack of warmth was a constant and severe afflic- 
tion. All the houses that he visited were kept at 
a temperature at least ten degrees below what . 
was comfortable for himself and wife ; and yet nei- 
ther of them were invalids, though both were ideal 
representatives of the American type of suscep- 

Our extremes give rise, among many other 
symptoms of nervous impressibility, to sensitiveness 
to heat and cold ; midsummer and midwinter are 
borne with difficulty, and many whom I have known 
find it necessary to keep constantly on the run be- 
fore climatic changes. For such, no section of the 
country is habitable more than three or four months 
of the year : in the winter they must take refuge 
in Florida; in the spring, to escape the heat and 
malaria, they hasten home, whence, in a few weeks, 
they are driven to the sea-side or farm-house. To 
live twelve months in one place is what very few 
of the brain-working classes of our large cities can 
endure. In this susceptibility to cold and heat, and 
the consequent necessity of hot-air furnaces and 
summer retreats, there has been a vast change 
within a quarter of a century. Our fathers were 
comfortable in a temperature of sixty degrees, while 


we require from seventy to seventy-five degrees, and 
even then suffer half the year from creeping chills 
and cold extremities. The metropolitan heats they 
bore right through midsijmmer, without the need 
or thought of vacation; and, without taking cold or 
experiencing severe discomfort, sat for hours in damp, 
and fireless churches. Foreigners often complain of 
our over-warm rooms, which to them are as annoy- 
ing as their under-warm rooms are to us ; a tempera- 
ture of sixty degrees contents them, as it did our 
ancestors half a century or less ago. 

During the summer of 1868 the thermometer in 
England ranged between eighty-two aud eighty-eight 
degrees, and at one time rose to ninety-two degrees, 
and all complained of the excessive heat. In the 
winter ice is not abundant; snow falls only to the 
depth of two or three inches, and remains on the 
ground for but a few days ; skating and coasting and 
sleighing are almost forbidden joys. Through the en- 
tire year, in midwinter even, the meadows are fresh 
and green, and there is not a month when the public 
parks cease to be visited. In the coldest seasons a 
temperature of zero, or even ten degrees above, is 
very rare; at Greenwich the average of the ther- 
mometer during the month of January for half a 
century was thirty-seven degrees, a temperature that 
will not only allow but invite various and active 
out-door recreations. The English winter, indeed. 


is not unlike our March shorn of some of its bitter- 
ness and on its good behavior. 

"We Americans, on the contrary', for a part of the 
year are jjrisoners to our climate, in the summer 
not daring to walk abroad for fear of sunstroke, in 
midwinter hemmed in by biting cold and impass- 
able drifts of snow; at no season able to predict or 
calculate the temperature for a day, or even half an 
hour, in advance. These sudden leaps of the Ameri- 
can climate from distressing heat to severe cold, or 
the reverse, are quite unfamiliar to England, where 
spring slowly unfolds into summer, and summer in 
turn descends into a moderate winter. . 

Dryness of the Air. 

The element of dryness of the air, peculiar to 
onr climate as distinguished from that of Europe, 
both in Great Britain and on the Continent, is of 
the highest scientific and practical interest. 

Among the usually observed evidences of the 
dryness of our atmosphere, these facts are note- 
v.'orthy : the hair easily becomes harsh and dry, re- 
quiring oil and pomade; barbers are more popular 
and more patronized here ; clothing hung out (m 
lines gets dry more quickly, to the astonishment of 
foreign washerwomen ; bread dries more rapidly 
and sooner becomes stale — hence the habit of using 
it fresh — eating it while warm ; cellars can be 


used for the storage of provisions witlio-ut fear of 
being injured by dampness ; and articles of all sorts 
are less likely to be ruined by mould — less liable 
to corrode or decay ; paint on houses dries more 
speedily, and the second coat can be sooner put on ; 
inlaid floors are more easily cracked; makers of 
musical instruments must be more careful in select- 
ing the material ; the plaster in newly built houses 
dries so quickly that occupants move in far sooner 
than they w.ould dare to do abroad ; skins in tan- 
yards do not need to hang out so long for drying ; 
matches are more easily lighted ; — if there be excep- 
tions to all these facts they are found at the sea- 
coast, on the shores of the great lakes, in damp, 
woody sections, or on the borders of the Gulf. 

Extremes of dryness of the air teach us much 
on this subject. As the United States has a drier 
atmosphere than Europe, so the West is drier than 
the East. The climate of Colorado has been well 
studied by Dr. Dennison and others. This terri- 
tory is, on the average, 6,500 feet above the level 
of the sea, while the peaks of the Eocky Mountains 
beyond reach as high as 13,000 or 14,000 ; and the 
temperature is not unlike that of New York, Indi- 
ana, or Illinois. 

P. J. Huncke, United States signal oificer at 
Denver, reports, that "between October, 1873, and 
September, 1874, the average humidity was 49.3 per 


cent. There were no regular dews, fogs, or damp 
ness at night; on the average there were in two 
months, 19 1 days that were clear and sunshiny." 
On the nervous system this unusual dryness and 
thinness of the air have a many-sided influence; such 
as increase of headaches, neuralgias, and diminished 
capacity for sustaining cerebral toil. 

At Pike's Peak station, 14,000 feet above the 
level of the sea, the signal officer of the United 
States reports that the pulse beats from 90 to 100 
per minute the first month, and from 82 to 90 the 
second month ; and when, as is often the case, there 
is much electrical disturbance, the pulse goes to 
110 and 120. All this is complicated with the ele- 
ment of error that comes from simple elevation ; 
but in Peru, as I am told, in latitude fifteen de- 
grees South, at an altitude of from 4,000 to 6,000 
feet, the climate is favorable to the nervous; and 
certain districts of Switzerland are famed as refuge- 
places for neurotic patients. At Leadville, Coloi-ado, 
the cigars exposed for sale are covered with a wet 
sponge to keep them from drying up ; men lose flesh 
on coming to this region ; catarrhs are very common ; 
th(>.re is a lessened capacity for cerebral toil. This 
whole American continent, in its northern regions, 
is Colorado on a smaller scale. 

The organs, pianos, and violins of America are 
superior to those made in Europe at the present 


time. This superiority is the result, not so much of 
greater skill, ingenuity, or experience, hut — so far as 
I can learn, from conversing with experts in this line 
— from the greater dryness of -the air, which causes 
the wood to season better than in the moist atmos- 
phere of Europe. 

I am told, furthermore, that American pianos 
taken to Europe bear well the greater moisture of 
Europe ; while, on the other hand, musical instru- 
ments brought from the other side of the Atlantic 
to this country, do not bear well the greater dryness 
of our atmosphere. 

The causes of 'his great lack of moisture are 
found in the relative infrequency of lakes, the vast 
extent of unbroken territory, and the scarcity of rain. 
Eastern Europe is surrounded by immense bodies of 
water : hence the air is always freighted with moist- 
ure; hence, in part, the ruddiness, the solidity, and 
the bulk of the representative Englishman. The in- 
fluence of the Gulf Stream is likewise of. great im- 
portance on the climate of Great Britain, making it 
both damp and equable. 

JSTot only are there many more days of rain in 
Great Britain than in America, but there are more 
clouds in the sky, even when it does not rain. 
Clouds, by well-known physical laws, interfere 
with evaporation; and. thus the dampness remains 
longer in the earth than in a land where sunshine 


is more free. Thus, the number of days of rain 
and the amount of rain being the same in Great 
Britain and America, Great Britain would be more 
moist. This persistent moisture, as is well known, 
is the cause of the greenness and long-continued 
beauty of the foliage of Great Britain, of Ireland, 
and of the Scotch lakes. 

My friend Professor Ball, of Paris, told me there 
is in this respect a great difference between Great 
Britain and France. In Paris, at least, where the sky 
is far clearer, more like that of America, the streets 
dry up much more quickly after a rain. The 
French, as also is well known, are more nervous in 
some respects than the English, with a finer type 
of organization, more neai'ly resembling Americans. 

In regard to the electrical state of a dry atmos- 
phere, this general fact is quite clear : that the 
electricity which is found in all states of the atmos- 
phere is less evenly and uniformly diffused, and 
more liable to various disturbances through inequali- 
ties of tension, when the air is dry than when it is 
moist. Moisture conducts electricity, and an at- 
mosphere well charged with moisture, other condi- 
tions being the same, will tend to keep the elec- 
tricity in a state of equilibrium, since it allows free 
and ready conduction at all times and in all direc- 
tions. The human body, therefore, when surrounded 
by a moist atmosphere never has its own electrical 


condition seriously disturbed, nor is it liable to 
sudden and frequent disturbances from tbe want 
of equilibrium in the air in which it moves. 

In regions where the atmosphere is excessively 
dry, as in the Kocky Mountains, human beings — 
indeed all animals, become constantly acting light- 
ning-rods, liable at any moment to be made a con- 
venient pathway through which electricity going 
to or from the earth seeks an equilibrium. Hence 
it is that in that section, especially in the more 
elevated portions, the hair of the head and the tails 
of horses not unfrequently stand erect, and travellers 
over the mountains are astonished and alarmed by 
flames of lightning on the rocks, and even on their 
walking-sticks. In the valley of Sacramento, and, 
to a less extent, in other sections of the Pacific 
coast, there occur at certain times what are called 
" north winds," which, coming from the desert of the 
North, are excessively dry, and consequently, for 
the causes above given, are attended by important 
electrical disturbances, similar in kind, but severer 
in degree, to those that at all times are liable to 
take place in that section. During the prevalence 
of these winds, which may last several hours or 
days, fruits and foliage, especially on the side to- 
ward the wind, tend to shrivel and wither; the 
grass, likewise, shows the effect of the same influ- 
ence, and human beings and all animals are un- 


wontedly irritable and neryous. Even in the East 
our neuralgic and rheumatic patients, during and 
just before thunder-storms, are often suddenly at- 
tacked by exquisite pains that at once disappear 
with the appearance of fair weather. There are 
those so sensitive that for a hundred miles and 
more, and for a full day iu advance, as Dr. Mitchell 
has shown, they can predict the approach of a storm. 
The atmospheric conditions and disturbances in rela- 
tion to moisture, dryness, and electricity which these 
sensitives thus visibly and painfully appreciate, affect 
us all, though invisibly and painlessly ; but through 
a lifetime and through the generations these perpet- 
ually acting influences result in nervousness and ner- 
vous exhaustion, with all the maladies to which they 

The exceeding cold of our winters compels us 
to pass a large part of our time not only in-doors, 
but in rooms overheated with dry air; thus one of 
the bad features of our climate plays into the hands 
of the other, re-enforcing, extending, multiplying, 
its capacity for evil. The high temperature and 
unnatural dryness of our closed rooms are both 
harmful, and are both made necessary by excessive 
external cold, and by the alternations of heat and 
cold that produce a sensitiveness of organization 
which can only find comfort in a somewhat high 


JIow Dry Air causes Nervousness. 

Dryness of the air, whether external or internal, 
likewise excites nervousness by heightening the 
rapidity of the processes of waste and repair in the 
organism, so that we live faster than in a moist 
atmosphere. The rationale of this action of dry- 
ness on living beings — for it is observed in animals 
as in men — is as follows : Evaporation from the 
surface of the body is accompanied by dissipation 
of heat, and by the numerous and complex vital 
changes of which the evolution and dissipation of 
heat through evaporation are the results. In a 
moist atmosphere such evaporation takes place 
slowly, because the air, being already saturated with 
water, cannot rapidly take up the vapor that comes 
from the surface of the body; hence this vapor ac- 
cumulates in the form of sensible perspiration. A 
dry atmosphere, on the contrary, is eager and 
hungry for the bodily moisture and rapidly absorbs 
it, so that it does not accumulate on the surface, 
but passes ofE as insensible perspiration. "We per- 
spire the least when we are apparently perspiring 
the most; on sultry August days our clothing ia 
soaked, because the moisture of the body has no 
chance for ready escape, and consequently the vita] 
changes that produce the moisture are obstructed 
and move with corresponding slowness. A day 
that is both moist and warm is hotter to the nerves 


of sensation and far more oppressive than a far 
warmer day that is also dry, for the conyersion of 
the fluids of the body into insensible vapor, which 
process takes place so rapidly in dry air, is attended 
with escape of bodily heat, which gives relief. 
Hence it is that in California and on the Pacific 
coast and in the Eocky Mountain region, where the 
thermometer sometimes runs as high as one hundred 
and ten or even one hundred and twenty degrees 
in the shade, sunstrokes were formerly unknown 
and even now are exceedingly rare. Hence it is 
that the hot room in the moist Eussian bath is so 
much harder to bear than the hotter rooms of the 
dry Turkish bath. Hence it is also that our Au- 
gust dog-days are so much more wearying and 
painful than the hotter days of mid-June and of 
early July. 

One great climatic advantage of Europe is the 
non-existence of dog-day weather, as we, in this 
country, understand that term ; the moisture of the 
Northern European atmosphere is never, for any 
considerable time, combined with high temperature. 
The English, who, except by travel in Africa or 
India or America, know nothing of hot weather, 
warn Americans against visiting Italy in summer; 
but those who do not heed this advice will find in 
Yenice and Milan and Eome, and even Naples, no 
warmer days than in America at the same season. 


Dryness of the air is one cause of the long- 
observed leanness of the Americans as compared 
with the Europeans. We are taller, thinner, lankier, 
than the original stock in England and Germany, 
partly because in our dry atmosphere we so rapidly 
evaporate ; the animal fluids disappear into the 
aerial fluid ; we have little chance to accumulate fat. 
Remembering that the body is composed mostly of 
water, it is clear that i-apid evaporation must be 
attended by a rapid loss of bodily weight. A 
thousand Americans, taken at random, weigh less 
on the average than a thousand Englishmen or 
Germans of the same ages and social status ; even 
the dark aborigines, in spite of their indolence, 
were almost always lean. 

The moisture of the atmosphere of England is one 
cause of the success of her manufactures, and one 
reason why America finds it hard to compete with 
England in this respect is the dryness of American 
atmosphere. Certain threads, I am told, cannot be 
made in this country, under any condition yet sug- 
gested, and, for the manufacture of cotton, moisture 
is of high service. Even in England, there are 
certain districts more moist than others, and, there- 
fore, better fitted for manufacturing purposes. The 
greater prevalence of moisture in the North of 
England has been assigned as the cause of the 
greater success of manufacturing in that section ; 


and one of the Manchester mill owners asserted 
that, during a season of dry weather, there was, in 
weaving alone, a loss of five per cent, in quantity, 
and another loss of five per cent, in quality; in 
spinning, also, an equal loss is claimed. To main- 
tain moisture in mills, sundry devices have been 
tried, which have met, I believe, with partial success 
in practice. 

Climate alone cannot produce a high order of 
nervousness, else the ITorth American Indian should 
have been nervous, but climate plus an intense 
civilization. Dr. Benjamin Howard, whose oppor- 
tunities for studying the comparative climatology 
of Europe and America have been abundant, has 
brought to my notice, in conversations on this 
theme, the fact that, in England the difference be- 
tween the out-door temperature and the in-door 
temperature is much less than in the United States. 
An American does not need to be very long in 
England before noticing this fact, after his attention 
has been attracted to it. Even in the quite chilly 
weather of summer and autumn the English keep 
their doors and windows open and do without fire; 
and in seasons when fire is imperative, they keep 
the temperature so low (a little above or below 60 
degrees) that one going out doors is sensible of 
only a slight change — it may be ten, twenty, or 
thirty degrees; whereas, in America, in our long 


winters, the houses especially in our cities (though 
not exclusively in cities), the temperature is sel- 
dom less than seventy or seventy-five degrees, and 
not infrequently going to eighty degrees; while 
outside, the temperature is down among the thirties, 
the twenties, and, in some sections, is at times below 
zero — thus making a contrast of from forty to 
eighty degrees or more between the out-door and 
the in-door temperature. 

In connection with this fact, and as a part of it, 
an .American in visiting Europe observes the out- 
doorness of the life of the people as compared with 
American life. 

In the Northern, Eastern, and Western portions 
of the United States, there are so many days in 
winter and spring when, from extremity of cold, 
depth of snow, slush or mud, going out of doors is 
positive punishment to any but the most hardy, or 
those whose lives compel them to be out; and in 
midsummer, also, so many days when, extremity of 
heat and danger of exposing one's self to the direct 
rays of the sun are great, that the habit of stay- 
ing in the house becomes fixed, not with women 
alone, but with men also, and with children of 
both sexes, and this habit of keeping us in- doors 
is formed and is kept up at those delightful sea- 
sons of our summer and early fall when the temp- 
tation to go out and stay out is stronger, perhaps. 


than ill any other civilized country. Even in our 
perfect Octobers, on days that are pictures of beauty 
and ideals of climate — just warm enough to be 
agreeable and stimulating enough not to be depres- 
sing, we yet remain in the house far more than 
Europeans are wont to do even in rainy or ugly 

Not only the British themselves, but all people 
who visit Great Britain during their sad seasons, 
unite in cursing the English climate; but against 
all these impatient criticisms should be kept in 
remembrance this partially redeeming fact that, 
there is not, probably, on earth, another great coun- 
try in which, taking all the year round, there are 
so" few days when one cannot go out of doors and, 
if need be, spend a good portion of the time there. 
The English know nothing of summer, as we know 
of it — they have no days when it is dangerous, 
and scarcely any days when it is painful to walk 
or ride in the direct rays of the sun ; and in win- 
ter, spring, and fall there are few hours when one 
cannot by proper clothing keep warm while moder- 
ately exercising. 

So little accustomed are the English to warm 
weather, and so little do they know of summer or 
of summer heat, that they have no standard of heat 
as we have ; and when, as very often happens, in 
July, August, or September, there appears a succes- 


sion of days very much like our October- weatlier, 
they say they are having a hot spell. 

This past summer (1880), I spent a week in 
Cambridge, attending a meeting of the British Medi- 
cal Association. After a long period of wet and 
cold there came a few days of our October or 
early November weather — when it was safe even 
for an American to lay by the overcoat, save in 
the early morning or in the evening, and perchance 
to even run the risk of changing from thick to 
somewhat thin underclothing. It was a perfect 
week, as judged by the American standard — the 
only flaw being the chilliness of the nights and the 
danger of taking cold in the early morning hours; 
but all the British, Scotch, and Irish whom we met 
when referring to the weatlier spoke of it as being 
" excessively warm." 

In Paris and in Southern France, in Spain, Italy, 
and even in the southern portions of Germany, 
now and then, are days which the inhabitants call 
hot, but which we call comfortable, and only com- 
fortable when we are clothed more warmly than 
is oar custom when in our own country, at the 
same season. 

During that week at Cambridge there were held 
a number of garden parties, mostly out-doors, in the 
grounds attached to the colleges, and mostly in the 
afternoon, at an hour when, in America at the same 


season, there would have been danger of sunstroke, 
or, at least, the heat would have been so intense 
that there would have been no chance of pleasure 
— whereas, there it was delightful. 

The contrast between the English and American 
climates can also be well studied this very year ; 
within the present season (1880-81) at the time that 
we have been suffering so much in America, there 
has been a snow-storm in Great Britain, with cold 
which for that climate is regarded as extraordinary 
if not unprecedented ; and yet, neither the depth of 
snow nor temperature were at all unusual for America 
in any winter and would not excite attention or com- 
ment. Trustworthy accounts from London inform 
us, however, that the business and pleasure of that 
metropolis and vicinity were paralyzed by a slight 
fall of snow and the severity of the cold. Even 
the cabmen, who in this city never retreat in the 
lowest temperature or in the hardest storm, in Lon- 
don ran to their homes, and it was difficult to get 
conveyance except by the underground road. 

Last year Paris was visited somewhat in the 
same way, and was in a similar state of want of 
preparation as in London ; the horses were not shod 
for ice and snow, laborers and the travellers were 
not qualified for extremes of temperature, and were 
frightened by a move in the thermometer which 
we in America expect any time during the winter. 


The way, indeed, the Englishman met, or rather re- 
fused to meet, this cold wave and storm that burst 
upon him, is the best of all proof that he knows 
nothing of cold, as he knows nothing of heat, as 
cold and heat are experienced every year in America. 

The chorographic map of the United States 
which is appended, represents by the different de- 
grees of shading, the relative nervousness of the 
North and South, and with as much accuracy as 
we are justified in attempting with our present 
knowledge, and sufficient also, to give a clear and 
just idea of what is here stated. 

It will be noticed that the lines are thick and 
dark all through New England and the Middle 
States, and to the west as far as the MississiiDpi, 
and that even north as far as Minnesota and Wis- 
consin the lines are not as far apart as in the Gulf 
States. In the distant west the population is not 
yet thick enough to make data for ns to form a 
conclusion as to the comparative nervousness of 
that region and the South ; and in regard to Cali- 
fornia, also, it is impossible for us to get information 
accurate enough to represent it fairly on this map; 
it is probable, however, that nervousness is not so 
prevalent in California as in the East and North, 
the climate there being more uniform all the year 
round, with less frequent and less violent changes, 
and is more moist than in the East. 




Our habits and institutions, so far as they are 
distinctively American — rapid eating, eager quest 
for gold, exciting revivals and elections — are the 
products of a dry atmosphere and extremes of tem- 
perature combined with the needs of a new country 
and a pioneer life. "We are nervous, because the 
rapid evaporation in our dry, out-door air and in our 
overheated rooms, for reasons above given, heightens 
the rapidity of the processes of waste and repair in 
the brain and nervous system, and because of the 
exhausting stimulation of alternations of torrid heat 
and polar cold ; and, this nervousness is enhanced 
by the stress of poverty, the urgency of finding 
and holding means of living, the scarcity of in- 
herited wealth, and the just desire of making and 
maintaining fortunes. We cannot afford to be calm ; 
for those to whom the last question is whetlier they 
shall exist or die there is no time or force for ac- 
quiring plumpness of the body. Not How shall we 
live? but Can we live at all? is the problem that 
almost every American is all his life compelled to 

The neuroses, or functional nervous diseases — 
of which sick-headache, neurasthenia (nervous ex- 
haustion), neuralgia, spinal irritation, and hay-fever 
are types — are vastly more frequent and more com- 
plex in the Northern and Eastern part of the 
United States than in all the world besides. These 


maladies are an evolution, a differentiation of the 
nervous exliaustion produced by our climate and 
institutions. They have increased p'^ri passu with 
the increase of activity and the complexity and 
friction of our civilization. They did not appear 
in the first century of the republic, for time must 
elapse before climatic peculiarities could show, on 
a wide scale, their special effects on the organiza- 
tion ; furthermore, in the last half century the 
stress and friction of civilization, under the influ- 
ence of the railway, the newspaper, and the tele- 
graph, have increased to a degree unparalleled in 
modern or ancient times. From this same cause — 
civilization — the European as well as the American 
nerves have been affected, though on account of 
differences of climate and institutions far less than 
in our own country. 

All of the above reasonings apply to the North- 
ern and Eastern portions of the United States far 
more than to the Southern States or to Canada. In 
the South, particularly in the Gulf States, there are 
not the extremes of heat and cold, nor the peculiar 
dryness of the air, that have been described. The 
Southern winters are mild, with little or no snow 
and abundance of rain and dampness, while the 
summers are never as intensely hot as in the lati- 
tude of Boston and New York. Throughout the 
year the Southern climate is both more equable and 


more moist than that of the North. Herein is 
explained the most interesting and suggestive fact 
that functional nervous diseases of all hinds regu- 
larly diminish in frequency and variety as we go 
South. Canada has extremes of temj^erature, but 
more of steady cold than the States, while the air 
is kept moist by numerous rivers, lakes, and the 
wide extent of forest; partly for this reason and 
partly on account of differences of institutions it 
does not share, to any very marked degree, in the 
nervousness of the Northern United States. 

Climate of America compared with that of Japan. 

The climates of the coasts of the Old and New 
"World have certain resemblances, though they are 
not precisely alike. The isothermal line of 51° 
Fahrenheit passes through New York, Paris, and 
Kanagawa. The climates of coasts are to a consid- 
erable degree determined by the ocean currents. 
The Pacific Ocean, like the Atlantic, has its Gulf 
Stream. The Kuro Si wo stream of the Pacific, with 
its circuit of 18,000 miles, carries the warm water 
of the tropics towards the poles, and regulates in a 
manner the climate of Japan. Mr. Croll estimates 
that if the Gulf Stream were to stop, the annual 
temperature of London would fall thirty degrees, 
and England would become as cold as Nova Zembla. 
It is the influence of the Gulf Stream that causes 


London, that is eleven degrees farther north than 
New York, to have an annual mean temperature 
but two degrees lower. 

The best analogue to the American climate is 
that of Japan, which lies on the eastern coast of 
A-sia, as America lies on the eastern coast of 
America. A portion of Japan which lies on the 
Pacific Ocean and receives the warmth which comes 
from the Grulf Stream of the Pacific, is considerably 
modified thereby in its temperature ; bnt on the 
west side of the Islands the climate has something 
of the rigor of that of America. According to Miss 
Isabella Bird, who has recently published a work 
entitled, "Unbeaten Tracks in Japan," which is not 
only the very best work ever written on Japan, 
but one of the most remarkable works of travel 
ever written by man or woman, it seems that the 
Japanese suffer both from extremes of heat and 
cold, from deep snows and ice, and from the many 
weeks of sultriness such as oppress us in the United 
States. The atmosphere, however, of Japan, is all 
through far more moist than that of America, in 
that respect resembling some of the British Isles ; 
there is more rain and more moisture without refer- 
ence to rain, than in America. In the Japanese, 
however, we see suggestions of a fineness of type 
which is peculiarly American; and had the Japan- 
ese obtained civilization which, in institutions and 


in intensity had even approximated that of America 
and Europe, it is not improbable that they might 
have developed a nervous susceptibility which, in 
their present condition, does not exist. 

This is certain ; — that the Japanese, even of 
the lower orders, are of a far finer type than the 
Chinese, or any of the nations of -the Orient, and 
that the Japanese woman of the higher classes, ac- 
cording to Miss Bird and all authorities, is of a 
sensitiveness of organization and a grace and deli- 
cacy of manner that suggest the highest types, as 
we meet them in the very highest civilization. 

Differences in Amerlccm Climate. 

The mountain climate of the United States, or 
the territorial climate, somewhat resembles that of 
Central Asia ; it is both very dry and very severe 
in heat or cold in Colorado, in Arizona, in Ne- 
vada, in Utah, and in Idaho. The atmosphere is 
thin and dry, and is subject to frequent, sudden, 
and furious changes; it is the brewery or pathway 
of storms for a whole continent. Our Meteorci- 
logical Bureau has justified its existence and labors 
by demonstrating and popularizing the fact that our 
waves of extreme heat and of extreme cold and 
severe climatic perturbations of various kinds are 
born in or pass from the Pacific through these 
mountains and travel eastward, and hence their paths 


can be followed and their coming can be predicted 
■with a measure of certainty. These storms and waves 
of heat and cold are the results of extremes of tem- 
perature in these mountain districts. In jS^orthern 
Montana the mean temperature at 4.35 p. m., the hot- 
test week in 18Y2, was 90° and the coldest week in 
the same year at 7.35 a. m., 12° below zero, which is a 
difference of 102°. At Denver, Colorado, the annual 
mean temperature is 48°; at this place, in January. 
1873, the extreme temperatures were 62° above and 
17° below zero, a difference of 79°. In October there 
was a difference of 81°— between 5 and 86. 

Not only is this mountain climate noted for ex- 
tremes of temperature, but, from the elevation, the 
air is very much rarified and is exceedingly dry — 
all the elements requisite for producing nervousness. 
It is not strange, then, that new-comers lose weight, 
in some cases quite rapidly, an average loss of one- 
eighth being not unusual ; a two hundred pound 
man losing twenty-five pounds and becoming a 
hundred and seventy-five pounder. This takes place 
at Denver, the queen city of the mountains, situ- 
ated a mile above the sea, where the sun almost 
always shines, where the atmosphere is translucent 
and dry and the temperature is extreme, though 
the nights are usually cool. In higher regions, as 
at Leadville, two miles above the sea, the loss in 
weight goes as far as one-sixth or one-seventh of 


the weight of the body, and goes on much more 
rapidly. Travellers in those very elevated regions 
confirm the statement of Bayard Taylor, that new 
residents may be recognized by the spots of blood 
upon their handkerchiefs. 

In this section and generally also in the verjl 
dry and elevated plateaus of the distant West, sex- 
ual desire and power in man are diminished to a 
very remarkable degree. 

Coming eastward across the Mississippi, we find 
that the climate of Minnesota has a yearly mean of 
42°; 15o for the winter, 41° for the spring, 68° for 
the summer, and 45° for the autumn — a range of 
53j between the means of summer and winter ; the 
winters being very severe and not uniform, and with 
sudden and frequent variations ; the extremes of 
the year ranging from 39° below zero to 99° above 
zero — a clear break of 138 degrees. 

The air of this region is also very dry, though 
much less rarified than that of Denver and of the 
mountains ; and as the mountains are the birth- 
places of storms, so Minnesota and the northwest is 
the centre of nervous diseases ; probably no young 
and newly-settled district in the world has, in so 
short a time, developed in proportion to the brain - 
working population, so much nervousness as this 
region. I form this judgment from the testimony 
of many physicians and others who have visited 


or resided there, and from many patients from that 
section who consulted me professionally.* 

Tropical and Sub-Tropioal Climate contrasted 
with the Climate of A merica. 

There appears to be no climate on the globe, in 
all respects, and at all times, equable and agree- 
able for civilized beings. 

The Sandwich Islands is, on the whole, perhaps, 
at all seasons, and for nearly all years, the most 
agreeable climate in the world ; the temperature 
ranging nearly all months between 65° and 85°, with 
occasional fallings and risings. The extraordinary 
uniformity of the seasons in those islands is ac- 
counted for in part by the under-currents of the 
ocean ; cold streams from the north 'flowing at the 
bottom of the ocean and coming up to the sur- 
face in that vicinity, thus tempering the climate — 
which otherwise would be excessively hot — and 
producing also, a uniformity and equability at all 
seasons of the year. There is evidence, also, that 
the climate of Southern California and Mexico are 
very agreeable, at least for a considerable portion 
of the year. The climate of California proper has 

* For many facts in the above analysis of climate I am in- 
debted to very valuable and well written articles on " Climates 
for Invalids," by Dr. T. M. Coan, in Harper's Magazine, and to 
Dr. Dennison's" Rocky Mountain Health Resorts." 


many and serious drawbacks, such as fogs, winds, 
cold and heat. None of the famous health resorts 
of Eui'ope or America have good climates ; the 
famed places on the Mediterranean are liable at any 
time to be attacked by chilling, biting winds that 
are hard even for the sturdy to bear. Our own 
Florida is in the spring months, though superior to 
the Mediterranean coast, very far from being uni- 
form or trustworthy like the Sandwich Islands, the 
changes there being not only excessive, but violent, 
sudden, almost instantaneous. 

I started one morning from Palatka, on the St. 
Johns River, on a fishing excursion. So great was 
the heat during the middle of the day, that I found 
it convenient — even absolutely necessary, to take off 
my coat and hold an umbrella over my head, while 
my guide rowed to our destination ; but on return- 
ing, late in the afternoon, the cold became so se- 
vere that the heaviest ulster would have been agree- 
able, and I was forced to row myself with all my 
strength, to avoid taking cold. The day following, 
going up the river on a steamer, a closely-buttoned 
overcoat was as much needed as in midwinter at 
the Iforth. In a short trip, less than two weeks, I 
caught cold twice, although taking all possible care; 
and that season was not regarded as an unusually 
unpleasant one. 

While visiting Florida that year (1880), I was 


informed by a resident that the cold had been so 
intense in that region, years ago, as to destroy the 
orange trees. This year (1881) the same intense 
cold has prevailed; even on the St. Johns River 
oranges have frozen, trees have been injured, if 
not destroyed, and invalids fleeing from the savage 
North, have shivered and suffered in the hotels 
and on the lines of travel. On the sea islands 
between Charleston and Savannah, ice an inch 
thick has been formed, and oranges have been 
frozen on the trees ; fires and closed vpindows have 
been as much needed as at the North, and days 
and weeks of rain and mud have made the lives 
even of the healthy miserable. 

It is said that this is an exceptional season, but 
almost all our seasons are exceptional ; all over our 
country, unusual heat and un^^sual cold, or what 
seems to be unusual because it represents our latest 
suffering, and is therefore nearest to us and best 
remembered, is experienced many times every year 
and in nearly all portions of the United States. 

The present season of 1881 illustrates in the ex- 
treme one great cause for American nervousness. 

As I write, the whole North and West is cov- 
ered with snow, the accumulation of nearly twenty 
storms during the past two months; so little rain 
has there been that streams and wells that i-arely 
give out are dry, and in various country places, as 


I am told, one must go far away, and often use 
melted snow to obtain water. 

Wave after wave of Arctic cold, starting from 
the great reservoir or aqueduct of climates, Mani- 
toba Territory, has rolled over the country carrying 
immense suffering to all classes, wealthy and poor, 
and causing the "death of thousands by pneumonias, 
pleurisies, and kindred disorders. 

The streets of New York at this very moment 
are blockaded, and are destined for a long time to 
remain blockaded with banks of snow, which this 
rich metropolis cannot afEord to remove ; rivers 
packed with blocks of ice that makes navigation 
both hard and dangerous; on all lines of travel in 
the city and of the roads leading to it, there is 
obstruction of trade, and in some places absolute 
suspension; not only delicate women aud children, 
but even moderately strong and vigorous men, have 
been for weeks imprisoned with the cold, as closely 
and as cruelly as by a besieging army; all the ap- 
pliances for easing the temperature, by furnaces 
fireplaces, and ranges, have but partially succeeded, 
and the homes even of the wealthiest citizens are, 
a part of the time, cheerless and disagreeable. A 
large percentage ■ of our population has been, or is 
now prostrated by severe cold ; many of those who 
are able are fleeing southward, where they hope, 
and perhaps a part of the time may find milder 


skies, and escape the exliaustion of our protracted 

But seven months ago, in this very city, the 
heat was so j^owerful that those who dressed after 
the manner of the tropics could find, night or day^ 
no" comfort, even when idle, except by resorting to 
the sea-side, where, when the wind came from the 
land, but little more relief was to be had than at 
home ; the waves of the fiercest tropical heat com- 
ing from the regions of the mountains are now suc- 
ceeded by waves of polar cold ; a difference in the 
temperature of between 100 and 140 degrees. 

!N"o other civilized country, ancient or modern, 
has ever had such a climate as this. It is noticed 
in the seasons of extreme cold, that we do not be- 
come hardened, but weakened and made sensitive 
by exposure and attempts to endure it ; the longer 
the cold persists the more we feel it, and the more 
liable we are to be prostrated and canied away by 
it ; hence it is, that in the latter part of the winter 
and early spring — or what passes for spring, which is 
really a part of winter, and sometimes its worse part 
— there is more suffering from cold, more liability to 
disease, by taking cold, and more debility from long 
confinement in dry and overheated ' air than in early 
and midwinter; hence, the suffering of spring; 
hence, the desire to go southward ; hence, the old- 
fashioned custom of bleeding at that time ; hence, 


the prevalence of what are called bilious attacks ic 
the months of March, April, and May. Similarly 
we are not hardened but weakened by extreme 
heat; the early days of midsummer we bear well, 
buf become more and more impressible as the sum- 
mer advances. 

Hecapitulation of Causes of Nervous Exhaustion. 

The series of causes which result in a case of 
nervous exhaustion or general nervousness may be 
thus tabulated : 

First, the predisposing causes. Under this head 
comes — 

1. Modern Civilization. 

This is placed at the head, because none of the 
predisposing or exciting causes that follow it are 
competent to produce functional nervous disease of 
the class described in this work unless civilization 
prepares the way. The nervous diseases from which 
savages sufEer, and the lower orders of peasantry, 
are largely of a subjective, psychical character, being 
caused by the emotions, and assume very different 
phases, whatever their names be, from those herein 
described. Civilization is, then, the one constant 
factor, the foundation of all these neuroses, where- 
ever they exist. Other factors are inconstant ; cli- 
mate varies, special occupations vary ; hygienic habits 
vary, but civilization of some form, with its attend- 


ant brain- work and worry, with its in-door life, is an 
inevitable factor in the causation of all these neuroses. 

2. Climate. 

That climate must take a secondary, not a prim- 
ary place among predisposing causes of nervous ex- 
haustion, the history of our country alone proves. 
The American aborigines were the least nervous of 
all people; but the climate in which they lived 
was not much different from that in which are now 
living the most nervous people in the world. 

3. Bace. 

In limited, historic time, race is, in some socio- 
logical aspects, more potent than climate, since the 
strong races, like the Hebrews and Anglo-Saxons, 
succeed in nearly all climates, and are dominant 
wherever they go ; but in unlimited or very ex- 
tended time, race is a resTilt of climate and envi- 
ronment. We have seen already that these neuroses 
may be developed in almost any race, in two or 
three generations, as is proved almost constantly in 
our climate, under which are gathered so many dif- • 
ferent races. 

The two great factors in climate which are of 
most import in their relation to the nervous system 
are, dryness and moisture, heat and cold. But there 
had been extremes of temperature and dryness of 
the atmosphere for ages before modem nervousness 


4. The Nervous Diathesis. 

The nervous diathesis can only be developed to 
its full expression under the combined influences of 
race and climiite. That this is a predisposing, more 
perhaps than an exciting cause, is proved by the 
fact that very many persons have this nervous dia- 
thesis without developing to any very great extent 
nervous diseases. 

Among the exciting causes are the following : 

First, functional excess of any kind, as of the 
brain, the spine, the digestive, the muscular, and the 
reproductive systems. 

Under this head must be classed all excesses in 
eating or drinking, the use of stimulants and nar- 
cotics, financial and domestic trouble. 

None of these factors are competent to produce 
these neuroses, unless the way is prepared by the 
predisposing causes. Savages may go to the most 
furious excesses without developing any nervous 
disease ; they may gorge themselves, or they may go 
without eating for a week, they may rest in camp 
or they may go upon laborious campaigns, and yet 
never have nervous dyspepsia, sick-headache, hay- 
fever, or neuralgia. These exciting causes have 
usually been regarded as the sole causes of nervous 
diseases ; although a philosophical study of this sub- 
ject shows that of themselves they have but little 
power. They can only sow a crop of nervous dis- 


eases in a soil that lias been prepared by civiliza- 

No people in the world are so careful of their 
diet, the quality and quantity of their food, and in 
regard to their habits of drinking, as the very class 
of Americans who suffer most from these neuroses. 

At this point a query may be raised : Did not the 
eating, drinking, and smoking of our ancestors pre- 
pare the way for our nervousness ? Is not modern 
nervousness the remote effect of ancient dissipation ? 

The answer is, that where there is no civiliza- 
tion there is no nervousness, no matter what the 
personal habits may be, even though the experiment 
be made, as in Africa, for centuries. 

It would be impossible for an American Indian 
by any degree of recklessness or excess to make 
himself nervous. Alcohol only produces inebriety 
when it acts on a nervous system previously made 
sensitive. Alcoholism and inebriety are the pro- 
ducts not of alcohol, but of alcohol plus a certain 
grade of nerve degeneration. 

When a nervous American is shut up in bad 
and overheated air, he becomes more nervous ; his 
face perhaps flushes, his head aches, there is a sensa- 
tion of suffocation and vague misery that finds quick 
relief on getting into the open air, and in all direc- 
tions there is a a unshaken belief in the injurious- 
ness of breathing bad air; and injunctions to live 


as much as possible out of doprs, and to get away 
from cities and city-life are among the truisms of 
sanitary science. But bad air, that is, air simply 
made impure by the presence of human beings, 
without any special contagion, seems powerless to 
produce disease of any kind, unless the system be 
prepared for it. Not only bad aii', but bad air 
and filth combined, the Chinese of the lower orders 
endure both in this country and their own, and 
are not demonstrably harmed thereby — certainly not 
in their nervous systems ; but impui-e air, plus a 
constitution drawn upon and weakened by civiliza- 
tion, is an exciting cause of nervous disease of im- 
mense force. The Chinese huddled and herded 
together like sheep, of course breathe, by day as 
well as by night, an atmosphere as vile as it 
can be made by human breathing and human em- 
anations, but seem to develop therefrom no form 
of nervous disease, and not always, any form of 
acute and inflammatory disease ; and the savage 
tribes of the extreme North, and in cold regions 
everywhere, imprison themselves in their filthy 
houses without receiving any injury that can- be 
easily traced, and if injury does result it is mani- 
fested otherwise than through the nervoiis system. 

It cannot be too strongly enforced in all our 
thoughts, and controversies, and arguments on this 
complex theme of the causation of nervous disease, 


that not tobacco, nor alcohol, nor digestive, nor 
sexual excess, nor foul air, nor deprivation, nor in 
dulgence in any form, can produce nervous disease 
unless they act upon a constitution predisposed by 
civilization. American nervousness is the product 
of American civilization. All the other influences 
— climate, nervous diathesis, evil habits, worry and 
overtoil — are either secondary or tertiary. The 
philosophy of the causation of American nervous- 
ness may be expressed in algebraic formula as 
follows : civilization in general + American civil- 
ization in particular (young and rapidly growing 
nation, with civil, religious, and social liberty) + ex- 
hausting climate (extremes of heat and cold, and 
dryness) + the nervous diathesis (itself a result of 
previously named factors) + overwork or over- 
worry, or excessive indulgence of appetites or pas- 
sions = an attack of neurasthenia or nervous ex- 
haustion. A philosophic study of this question 
requires us to consider the whole equation, and not 
portions of it. To look exclusively to the bad 
habits or excesses, whether in use of food or alco- 
hol • or tobacco, or to special worry or excitement, 
or to any severe drafts on the nervous system that 
come from parturition or lactation in women, or to 
puberty or change of life, is as illogical, in the 
study of this subject, as it would l)e in the study 
of algebra. Climate is powerless without civiliza- 


tion ; the nervous diathesis can only exist in civiliza- 
tion, and excesses of the most extreme kind, excite- 
ments of the most violent nature, of themselves, 
without the addition of civilization, cannot equal a 
case of nervousness. 

The study of the eye on account of the great 
precision of modern ophthalmoscopes, helps us in the 
solution of many severe problems. 

Dr. Brudenell Carter, of London, in his work 
on " Diseases of the Eye," quotes a letter of Dr. 
Dixon, from Constantinople, in which it is stated 
that tne consumption of tobacco in that city 
averaged about three pounds a month for each in 
dividual, but that amaurosis was there a rare affec- 
tion. Dr. Habsch, the chief oculist in Constanti- 
nople, says that the effect of tobacco upon the 
eyes is very problematical ; that everybody smokes 
from morning to night, the men a great deal, the 
women a little less than the men, and the children 
smoke from the age Of seven and eight years. He 
states that the number of cases of amaurosis is very 
limited. If expert oculists would examine the 
eyes of the Chinese, who smoke quite as much as 
the Turks, if not more, and smoke opium as well 
as tobacco, they would unquestionably confirm the 
conclusion of Dr. Habsch among the Turks. Dr 
Habsch believes that in persons with a very deli- 
cate skin and conjunctiva among the Turks, smok- 


ing frequently causes chronic irritation, local con 
gestion, profuse lachrymation, ile^haritis oiliaris; 
and more or less intense redness of the eyelids.* 

Dr. K. Hekimian Sewny, of the Central Turk- 
ish College, at Aintab, in a private letter to Dr. 
Koosa, recently published in the Medical Hecord, 
confirms what is here claimed. He says that in 
an extensive practice of four years and a half 
in various large cities of Asia Minor, he does not 
recollect ever seeing a single case of amblyopia or 
amaurosis due solely to the use of tobacco. He 
says that he thinks that in some rare cases these 
conditions may result from the use of alcohol and 
tobacco at the same time. He also states, what is 
known evc-ywhere, that the Turks are great 
smokers, and that they use strong tobacco. 

Dr. Sewny is endorsed by Dr. Eoosa as an expert 
on diseases of the eye, and when he makes the above 
statements we may accept them as authoritative. 

The Hollanders, according to a most expert 
traveller, Edmondo De Amicis, . are the greatest 
smokers of Europe ; on entering a house, with the 

* For this reference I am indebted to a letter to the Medical 
Record, of December 1, 1880, from Dr. Roosa. The letter was 
called forth by the paper of Dr. Webster on " Amblyopia from 
the Use of Tobacco," read before the New Yorlv County Medical 
Association. Smoking acting on the savage or barbarian or semi- 
civilized constitution, can no more cause nervous disease than an 
acid can make soap without an alkali. 


first greeting you are offered a cigar, and when you 
leave another is handed to you; many retire with 
a pipe in their mouth, re-light it if they awake dur- 
ing the night; they measure distances by smoke; 
to such a place by not so many miles but by so 
many pipes. Says one Hollander, smoke is our 
second breath; says another, the cigar is the -sixth 
finger of the hand. 

And yet by the accepted reasoning of the world 
amblyopia, and amaurosis, and neurasthenia, and 
hay-fever, and sick-headache, and sleeplessness, and 
insanity, and hysteria, would be proved to be just 
as common among these people as in America, if 
there were but experts on hand to make the obser- 
vations. The method in which subjects of this 
kind have been discussed are most discreditable to 
our science and our logic. This method of reason- 
ing I have been obliged to meet from the time when 
I first inaugurated the public discussion of this sub- 
ject in accordance with the philosophy of this work, 
and it must be met even now, although with a 
higher evolution of ideas, and improved training 
among scientific men, it is slowly passing away. 
The need of our age, the need of all ages, of 
OTir coiintry and of all countries, is a reconstruc- 
tion of logic and the principles of evidence, so that 
we shall know how to reason justly — shall know 
what to reject, and what to believe. 


Opium Eating not always Injurious to the Chi- 

Opium eating in China does not work in the waji 
that the same habit does in the white races. Mr. 
Gardner, one of Her Majesty's consuls at Che Fooe, 
estimates that half the adult population of China 
are smokers of opium, some being occasional smok- 
ers, others habitual, and others still who smoke to 
great excess. He further observes that when it is 
said of a Chinaman that he smokes opium, it is 
meant that he smokes to excess and has a morbid 
craving for it, just as with us the expression a man 
drinks, means that he drinks too much — not that 
he drinks occasionally or moderately ; and that it 
is really nothing against anyone to be an occasional 
user of opium, any more than' it is against one 
here to be an occasional user of tobacco or alcohol. 
The same observer estimates that 1T,000,000 pounds 
of opium are annually consumed in China, and as 
the most excessive smoker does not consume more 
than four pounds, it is safe to calculate that half a 
pound is the general average consumption of all 
classes. It is clear that the habit of taking opiuni 
does liOt necessarily impair fertility, since large 
families are known among those who use opium, 
even to excess. It is clear, also, that thousands of 
hard-toiling people in China iind, in opium smok- 
ing, the same consolation that thousands of haixi- 


toiling people in Europe and America find in 
tobacco smoking, and with no more demonstrably 
injurious effects. Among my nervous patients I 
find very many who cannot digest vegetables, but use them with much caution ; but all China 
livos on vegetables, and indigestion is not a na- 
tional disease. Many of the Chinese live in un- 
drained grounds, in conditions favorable to ague and 
various fevers, but they do not suffer from these 
diseases, nor fi'om diseases of the lungs and bron- 
chial tubes, to the same extent as foreign residents 
there who do not use opium. There is reason for 
the belief that the smoking of opium has an anti- 
septic power, and even if that fact be disproved or 
doubted, the general fact that the majority of those 
who use opium in China are not injured by it, can- 
not be questioned. 

Health and Habits of North American Indians. 

There was recently published in the Maryland 
Medical Journal., a very interesting paper on " The 
Peculiarities of American Indians, from a Physi- 
ological and Pathological Standpoint," by W. C. 
Boteler, M.D., I.U.S.S.S., Otoe Agency, Gage Co., 
Nebraska. Since the publication of this paper I 
have had some correspondence with Dr. Boteler, 
and I find from his paper and from the letters 
which he has written me, that his observations 


there, on the ground, are in entire harmony with 
all the conclusions that I have derived from a 
thorough study of the subject, extending over many 
years, and through all sources of information — lit- 
erature, individual observations, and conversations, 
and correspondence with men who have passed their 
lives among the Indians. 

Succinctly stated, his observations are these : 
First. The Indian does not need pure air in order 
to be healthy ; the Indian's home, in his language, 
is his wigwam; instead of 3,000 feet of cubic air 
per individual, which, according to best estimates, the 
white man requires, his house will scarcely contain 
1,000 cubic feet, and this is rendered impure also 
by emanations from the cookery, and contains in 
the average about six human beings ; there are no 
windows or doors, and no ventilation; every crevice 
is closed, except for the door-drop occasionally 
opened, and a place for the exit of smoke at the 
top. Secondly. Food of any kind seems to be di- 
gested with equal ease, without regard to the 
method of its preparation. The Indian in his 
original state subsisted largely on beef, when he 
could get it — on the whole, the best single food for 
man ; but now that buffalo are scarce, the Indian 
depends largely ou Indian corn, and on one meal a 
day of corn will work at the plough from morning 
until night. The' water is sometimes as bad as the 


food, and is taken, Dr. Boteler says, usually from 
streams and slouglis filled with, germs and miserable 
impurities. Third. The Indian has less sickness 
than the white, and is, as a rule, in perfect health 
and well developed. This bad air, bad water, and 
bad food do not have any provably injurious effect 
on his constitution. Granted that the future gen- 
erations may suffer from these unfortunate surround- 
ings of their ancestors, this one fact is an entirety 
— that the present generation can endure this bad 
hygiene ; whereas the whites, their contemporaries 
in the same climate, are affected in their own gen- 
eration, not only in a year or month or day, but 
instantly, since there are those who cannot go 
into a crowded theatre, or into a hovel where 
the air is close and impure, without being at once 
unpleasantly affected, and, if they long remain, seri- 
ously so. Moreover, we know that the Kamscliat- 
kans may spend a good portion of their time in 
badly ventilated huts without any apparent injury 
to the nervous system. 

All these facts impress upon us the important 
generalization that food and diet and exercise and 
air and drinks and modes of life are relative and 
not absolute ; that their injuriousness or innocuous- 
ness depends on the subjective character of the 
individual ; and that man in his original state. 
before the coming of civilization, could stand ex 


tremes of diet and extremes of exposure, and ex- 
tremes of deprivation, and excess of almost every 
form, just as he can stand extremes of temperature, 
without demonstrable injury ; the amount of reserve 
force in the normal constitution being so great, that 
scarcely any conceivable extravagance can produce 

Fourth. That the illnesses of the Indian are 
more readily managed than the same illnesses of the 
white people. Their fevers are more readily 
treated, their rheumatisms and bronchial afEections 
and lung fevers and pleurisies respond more quickly 
and pleasantly to the usual treatment that we give 
these troubles, than the same diseases in the whites. 
Malaria, which is found among them, gives away 
better to the bark treatment or quinine, than ma- 
laria in the whites ; and Dr. Boteler observed that the 
whites who marry among the Indians and share their 
wigwams, sometimes appear for treatment with the 
Indians at the same time with the same symptoms, 
and it is observed that after several days of medica- 
tion the Indian will be well and the white man still 
an invalid, and so remain for weeks. 

Physique of Woman in the Smage State. 

"Woman in the savage state is not delicate, sen- 
sitive, or weak. Like man, she is strong, well de- 
veloped, and muscular, with capacity for enduring 


toil, as well as child-bearing. The weakness of 
woman is all modern, and it is pre-eminently 
American. Among the Indians the girls, like the 
boys, are brought up to toil and out-door life ; they 
are expected to tear limbs and boughs from trees 
and break sticks for fires. So different are the 
squaws from the tender and beautiful women of 
the white races, that they seem to belong to another 
order of creatures. The young wife of an Indian, 
having quarrelled one day with her husband, seized 
him by both ears and the hair, as he was raising 
his hand to strike her, threw him on the ground, 
as one would throw a child, and raising his head 
with her hands, beat it upon the hard ground until 
he begged for his life. In the same tribe (the 
Apaches) there was a young wife who prepared a 
meal for her husband and his friend, cooking the 
food and bringing it on the table. While they were 
eating, she went away, and in less than an hour re- 
turned,^ dressed in the finest apparel and ornaments 
and apparently very pleased and happy about some- 
thing. Pressed for an explanation, she took her hus- 
band away down to the spring in a thicket near by, 
and there in a bed of moss, wrapped in finest skins, 
was a beautiful new-born child. Within the short 
period of less than an hour all this had been accom- 
plished, and the mother was as lively and strong as 
though nothing had happened. 


The problem can he solved ly studying this Con- 
tinent alone. 

It is not necessary to go off the continent of 
North America, it is not necessary to leave the 
United States, in order to study the relation of 
civilization to the nervous system, and in order to 
demonstrate out of all dispute the proposition, that 
nervousness is a result and accompaniment and 
barometer of civilization. 

As the Indian comes in contact with civiliza- 
tion there is a slight increase of insanity among 
them ; as the negro obtains his freedom and uses it, 
there is likewise a slight increase of insanity, but 
not as yet perceptible as other forms of disease ; 
but the insanity of the negro, if not of the Indian, 
so far as I can understand and learn, is of a more 
hopeful sort and has a better prognosis than the 
insanity of the whites. 

Contrasting the North and the South, we not 
only find that nervous diseases of all kinds stead- 
ily diminish as we go towards the Grulf; but 
with this diminution of nervous diseases, we find, 
as a cause and explanation, a moister and less excit- 
ing climate, and institutions that favor conservatism 
more than radicalism. A ISTortlierner worships the 
new, the Southerner the old. A Southern manufac- 
turir successfully managing a cotton manufactory 
in Georgia, told me that he had always great diffi- 


ciilty in introducing any new macliinery or devices 
or methods in Ms establishments; far more oppo- 
sition was made than in the West, among the same 
class of people ; they opposed the innovations not 
because they were bad, but because they were new. 
In the West the new is always preferred to the old, 
and if the old be accepted it must have a battle to 
gain that acceptance ; and in the West also there is 
great and increasing nervousness. 

I suspect, but am not able to prove, that since 
the war there has been among the whites of the 
South an increase of functional diseases. This is 
sure, that some of the most severe cases of this char- 
acter have come under my care from the Gulf 
States ; and I have found that in a number of these 
cases, over anxiety and toil have been the exciting 
causes. The Southerners have had their fortunes to 
re-make ; old modes of business have been revived 
under different conditions, and new businesses and 
new interests have developed with a swiftness and 
complexity which before the war was impossible, 
or at least impracticable. Hiding the other day 
through the streets and along the wharves of Savan- 
nah, I observed a commercial activity greater than 
were found in almost any Northern city except the 
very largest. Since the war, also, the Northerners 
have visited the South, for health and amusement, 
in large numbers, during the winter especially, and 


by the law of mental contagioB, they are, no doubt, 
acting upon and influencing the Southern character. 

A Study of Southern Negroes. 

It is not necessary to read books of travel iu 
order to know that nerrous diseases do not exist, or 
exist but very rarely among savages or semi-savages, 
or even among barbarians, and that indulgence in 
j)assions and excess in narcotics and stimulants, as 
alcohol and tobacco and bad diet, are powerless of 
themselves to produce nervous diseases in any great 
frequency; on our own soil, barbarism can be well 
investigated. I have been twice favored with the 
chance to study Africa in America. On the sea 
islands of the South, between Charleston and Savan- 
nah, there are thousands of negroes, once slaves, 
most of whom were bom on those islands, and there 
will die, and who at no time have been brought 
into relation with our civilization, except so far as 
it is exhibited in a very few white inhabitants in 
the vicinity. Intellectually, they can be not very 
much in advance of their African ancestors ; in 
looks and manners they remind me of the Zulus 
now exhibiting in America ; for although since eman- 
cipation they have been taught by philanthropists, 
part of the time under governmental supervision, 
some of the elements of common school teaching, 
yet none of them have made, or are soon likely to 


make, any very important progress beyond those 
elements, and few, if any of them, even care to ex- 
ercise the art of reading after it is taught them. 
Here then, is a bit of barbarism at our door-steps; 
heie, with our own eyes, and with "the aid of those 
who live near them and employ them, I have soughtl 
for the facts of comparative neurology. There is 
almost no insanity among these negroes ; there is no 
functional nervous disease or symptoms among them 
of any name or phase ; to suggest spinal irritation, 
or hysteria of the physical form, or hay-fever, or 
nervous dyspepsia among these people, is but to 
joke. Inflammatory diseases they have as frequently, 
perhaps more frequently, than the whites ; colds and 
rheumatisms, and pneumonias are common, and of 
these diseases they die; but of nervousness and of 
nervous diseases, from insanity down through all 
the grades, they know little more, or no more than 
their distant relatives on the banks of the Congo. 
All the exciting causes which philosophers have 
assigned as explanations of nervous diseases and 
of their increase in civilized countries, are operating 
there with constant and tremendous power. These 
primitive people can go, when required, for weeks 
and months sleeping but one or two hours out of 
the twenty-four; they can labor for all day, or for 
two days, eating nothing or but little; hog and 
hominy and fish, all the year round, they can eat 


without getting dyspepsia; indulgence of passions 
several-fold greater, at least, than is the habit of 
the whites, either there or here, never injures them 
either permanently or temporarily; if you would 
find a virgin among them, it is said you must go 
to the cradle ; alcohol, when they can get it, they 
drink with freedom, and become intoxicated like the 
whites, but rarely, indeed, manifest the symptoms 
of delirium-tremens, and never of chronic alcohol- 
ism ; some of them are drunkards, but none are 
inebriates. Although in the great cities, especially 
since emancipation, insanity has, perhaps, somewhat 
increased, these thousands of negroes are types of 
negroes all over the South ; they are types of all 
Central Africa; they are types of South America; 
they are types of Australia; they are types of our 
not so very distant ancestors in Europe. 

These blacks cannot summon as much energy for 
a moment in an emergency as the whites, since 
they have less control over their energies, but in 
holding-on power, in sustained, continuous, unbroken 
muscular endurance, for hours and days, they sur- 
pass the whites. One of n)y friends seeing a negro 
attempting unsuccessfully to lift a trunk, seized hold 
of it himself and with ease carried it up stairs. 
The negro said, " You can lift a heavier trunk than 
I can, but I can work longer than you, I can tiro 
you out." 


My friend Dr. Tonner, formerly of the United 
States Army, tells me that the Indians of Arizona 
exhibit a similar endurance. For a reward of fifty 
cents and a little sugar, he could at any time hire 
a young Indian to take a journey of over one hun- 
dred miles in twenty-four hours, going all the time 
at a dog-trot, and with no rest and no refreshment 
except sugar and water. 

All this freedom from nervousness and nervous 
diseases we have sacrificed for civilization : we can- 
not, indeed, have civilization and have anything 
else; as we advance we lose sight and possession 
of the region through which we have passed. 

Oomparati'Oe Physique of the East and West. 

West of the AUeghanies, particularly west of 
the Mississippi, the state of civilization is much 
like that of the country east of the AUeghanies 
twenty-five or thirty years ago — showing the same 
haste, anxiety, resolution, and eagerness for quick 
and positive results that English travellers of the 
last generation observed in New England. While 
survivals of this Puritan character in the East are 
even now passing away, the Westerners, exhibit, in 
cases not a few, a feverishness, an eagerness, a 
fremescence, an expectancy, a constant and ever 
present conviction of the tremendous importance 
of things, such as characterized our immediate an- 


cestors. The whole physical character is in the 
face, if we can only read it; and in the Easterners 
and Westerners these differential characteristics are 
easily read. In E"ew York and vicinity there is 
probably less of impatience, solemnity and a sense 
of the all importance of getting somewhere in- 
stantly, than in the last generation. The West is 
where the East was a quarter of a century ago — 
passing more rapidly, as it would appear, through 
the same successive stages of development. 

On the other side of the world, in Australia 
and New Zealand, the new settlements are passing 
— though more slowly, and in a minor degree — 
through somewhat the same experience as the 
United States. There is less mental activity in 
those regions; there is less of fury and drive, and 
there is smaller population and a smaller rate of 
increase; but yet, as travellers aver, there is a ner- 
vousness of manner and in the style of living and 
doing, that in many ways suggests America. 

Australian institutions — both religious and politi- 
cal — are more like those of Canada than the United 
States ; and the climate is considerably different from 



Without civilization there can be no nervous- 
ness ; there is no race, no climate, no environment 
that can make nervousness and nervous disease 
possible and common save when re-enforced by 
brain-work and worry and in-door life. This is the 
dark and, so far as it goes, truthful side of our 
theme ; the brighter side is to be drawn in the 
present chapter. 

Thomas Hughes, in his life of " Alfred the 
Great," makes a statement that " the world's hardest 
workers and noblest benefactors have rarely been 
long-lived." That any intelligent writer of the 
present day should make a statement so absolutely 
untrue, shows how hard it is to destroy an old 

The remark is based on the belief which — 
against the clearest evidence of general observation 
— has been held for centuries, that the mind can 
be used only at the injurious expense of the body. 


This belief has been something n-.ore than a mere 
popular prejudice ; it has been a professional dogma, 
and has inspired nearly all the writers on hygiene 
since medicine has been a science ; and intelleetnal 
and promising youth have thereby been dissuaded 
from entei'ing brain-working professions ; and thus, 
much of the choicest genius has been lost to civil- 
ization ; students in college have abandoned plans 
of life to which their tastes inclined, and gone to 
the farm or workshop; authors, scientists, and in- 
vestigators in the several professions have thrown 
away the accumulated experience of the better half 
of life, and retired to pursuits as uncongenial as 
they were profitless. The delusion has, therefore, 
in two ways wrought evil, specifically by depriving 
the world of the services of some of its best en- 
dowed natures, and generally by fostering a habit 
of accepting statement for demonstration. 

Between 1864 and 1866 I obtained statistics on 
the general subject of the relation of occupation to 
health and longevity that convinced me of the error 
of the accepted teachings in regard to the eflEect of 
mental labor. These statistics, which were derived 
from the registration reports of this country and 
of England, and from a study of the lives of many 
prominent brain-workers, were incorporated in an 
essay on the subject, that was delivered before an 
association of army and navy surgeons, in New 


Orleans, in 1863, and afterwards published in the 
Hours at Home magazine. The views I then advo- 
cated, and which I enforced by statistical evidence, 
were : — 

1st. That the brain-working classes — clergymen, 
lawyers, physicians, merchants, scientists, and men 
of letters, lived much longer than the muscle- 
working classes. 

2d. That those who followed occupations that 
called both muscle and brain into exercise, were 
longer lived than those who lived in occupations 
that were purely manual. 

3d. That the greatest and hardest brain-workers 
of history have lived longer on the average than 
brain-workers of ordinary ability and industry. 

4th. That clergymen were longer lived than any 
other great class of brain-workers. 

5th. That longevity increased very greatly with 
the advance of civilization ; and that this increase 
was too marked to be explained merely by im- 
proved sanitary knowledge. 

6th. That although nervous diseases increased 
with the increase of culture, and although the 
unequal and excessive excitements and anxieties at- 
tendant on mental occupations of a high civilization, 
were so far both prejudicial to health and longevity, 
yet these incidental evils were more than counter- 
balanced by the fact that fatal inflammatory dis- 


eases have diminisliecl in frequency and violence in 
proportion as nervous diseases have increased ; and 
also that brain-work is, per se, healthful and con- 
ducive to longevity. 

Many of these views have since received various 
and powerful confirmation, and by a number of 
independent observers. The statistics on this sub- 
ject I have endeavored to use without abusing 
them ; to draw from them only those lessons that 
they are really capable of teaching. Among those 
classes who live mainly by routine and muscular 
toil (mechanics, artisans, laborers, Btc), change of 
occupation is the rule rather than the exception, 
especially in this country ; and any statistics of 
mortality derived from the registration reports, 
are, so far as these classes are concerned, of but 
little value in the study of the relative effects of 
the difierent occupations on health and longevity. 
Another important complication arises from the 
fact that certain occupations, as clerkships, positions 
in factories, teaching, etc., are followed almost ex- 
clusively by the young and middle-aged ; while 
other callings, as judgeships, are filled only by those 
in middle and advanced life. Another difiiculty 
arises from the fact that some important occupa- 
tions, as journalism, for example, are adopted only 
by a limited number ; and the number in them who 
annually die is too small to afford any basis for 


comparison. But this generalization is, I am per- 
suaded, admissible, that the greater majority of 
those who die in any one of the three great pro- 
fessions — law, theology, and medicine — have, all 
their lives, from twenty-one upwards, followed that 
profession in which they died. The converse gen- 
eralization, that the great majority of those who 
die in the muscle-working avocations, have all their 
lives followed some kind of muscle-working employ- 
ment, however frequently they may have changed 
from one to another at different periods, is also 
true. Yery few who once fairly enter theology, 
medicine, or law, ever permanently change to a 
purely physical calling; and, on the other hand, the 
number of those who begin life as farmers, laborers, 
and mechanics, and end it as lawyers, physicians, or 
clergymen, is quite limited, even in the United 
States, where every man has a better chance to 
follow the bent of his genius than in any other 

A comparison, therefore, of the longevity of the 
professional and of the muscle-working classes, as 
derived from registration reports, such as I have 
made, is quite justifiable. The value of this com- 
parison would be vitiated if it could be proved that 
those who enter the professions are originally 
healthier and stronger, and come from better stock 
than those who enter physical avocations ; but in 


this country, the practice has been to allow the 
more delicate members of a family to enter a pro- 
fession, whilst the tough and hardy work on the 
farm or learn a trade. Here, as in Europe, there is 
growing up a distinctively intellectual class who 
live solely by brain-work ; it is, however, not from 
this class alone, but from the farming, mercantile, 
and artisan class that the ranks of the professions 
are filled. 

Great Longevity of Great Men,. 

I have ascertained the longevity of five hun- 
dred of the greatest men in history. The list I 
prepared includes a large proportion of the most 
eminent names in all the departments of thought 
and activity. 

Jt would be difficult to find many illustrious 
poets, philosophers, authors, scientists, lawyers, states- 
men, generals, physicians, inventors, musicians, act- 
ors, orators, or philanthropists, of world-wide and im- 
mortal fame, and whose lives are known in sufficient 
detail for such an investigation, that are not repre- 
sented in the list. My list was prepared, not for 
the average longevity, but in order to determine at 
what time of life men do their best work. It was, 
therefore, prepared with absolute impartiality ; and 
includes of course, those who, like Byron, Raphael, 
Pascal, Mozart, Keats, etc., died comparatively young. 


Now the average age of those I have mentioned, I 
found to be 64.20. 

The average age at death at the present time, 
of all classes of those who live over^ twentj years, 
is about fifty-one. (See Drawing). Therefore, the 
greatest naen of the world have lived longer on the 
average than men of ordinary ability in the differ- 
ent occupations by fourteen years ; six years longer 
than physicians and lawyers; nineteen or twenty 
years longer than mechanics and day laborers ; from 
two to three years longer than farmers and clergy- 
men, who are the longest-lived class in our modern 
society. The value of this comparison is enforced 
by the consideration that longevity has increased 
with the progress of civilization, while the list I 
prepared represents every age of recorded history. 
A few years since I arranged a select list of one 
hundred names, comprising the most eminent per- 
sonages, and found that the average longevity was 
over seventy years. Such an investigation any one 
can pursue ; and I am sure that any chronology 
comprising from one to five hundred of the most 
eminent personages in history, at any cycle, will 
furnish an average longevity of from sixty-four 
to seventy years. Madden, in his very interesting 
work, " The Infirmities of Genius," gives a list of 
two hundred and forty illustrious names, witli their 
ages at death. 

























age Ij 



51-20. . . 












































1— I 



















? ■ 





























In view of these facts, it may be regarded as 
established that ""the world's hardest workers and 
noblest benefactors " have usually been very long- 

Causes of the Great Longevity of Brain- Worlcers. 

The full explanation of the superior longevity of 
the brain-working classes would require a treatise 
on the science of sociology, and particularly of the 
relation of civilization to health. The leading fac- 
tors, accounting for the long life of those who live 
by brain-labor, are: — 

1. The inherent and essential healthfullness of 
hrain-v:orTc, when unaccompanied hy worry. To 
work is to grow ; and growth, except it be forced, 
is always healthful. It is as much the function of 
the brain to cerebrate, as of the stomach to digest; 
and cerebration, like digestion, is normal, physiologi- 
cal, and healthful. In all bodily functions the ex- 
ercise of force develops more force ; work evolves 
strength for work. A plant that is suifered to bud 
and bloom, is more sturdy and longer lived than 
the plant that is kept from the light, or trimmed 
of all its blossoms. By thinking, we gain the 
power to think ; functional activity, within limits, 
tends to vigor and the self-preservation of an or- 
gan and of the body to which the organ belongs. 
The world has been taught that the brain can be 
developed only at the expense of the other organs 


of the body; granting that brain-work strengthens 
the brain itself, the rest of the body is impover- 
ished thereby — hence disease, and early death ; but 
it is certain that the very best of the brain-working 
classes are, on the average, well developed muscu- 
larly; and in size and weight of body are siiperior 
to the purely muscle-working classes, although their 
muscles may not be as large or hard or powerful as 
they would be if more used. 

2. Brain-worTters have less worry and more posi- 
tive comfort and happiness than muscle-workers. 
Worry is the converse of work ; the one develops 
force, the other checks its development, and wastes 
what already exists. Work is growth ; woriy is 
interference with growth. Worry is to work what 
the chafing of a plant against the walls of a green- 
house is to limitless expansion in the free air. In 
the successful brain-worker worry is transferred into 
work ; in the muscle-worker work too often degrades 
into worry. Brain-work is the highest of all anti- 
dotes to worry ; and the brain-working classes are 
therefore less distressed about many things, less ap- 
prehensive of indefinite evil, and less disposed to 
magnify minute trials than those who live by the 
labor of the hands. To the happy brain-wo rker life 
is a long vacation; while the muscle-w orker often 
finds no joy in his daily toil, and very little in the 
intervals, iojgntists, physicians, lawyers, clergymen, 


orators, statesmen, literati, and merchants, when suc- 
cessful, are happy in their work, without reference 
to the reward ; and continue to labor in their special 
callings long after the necessity has ceased. Where 
is the hod-carrier that finds joy in going up and 
down a ladder? and from. the foundation of the 
globe until now, how many have been known to 
persist in ditch-digging, or sewer-laying, or in any 
mechanical or manual calling whatsoever, after the 
attainment of independence? Good fortune gives 
good health. Nearly all the money of the world is 
in the hands of brain-workers; to many, in mod- 
erate amounts, it is essential to life, and in large or 
comfortable amount it favors long life. Longevity 
is the daughter of comfort. Of the many elements 
that make up happiness, mental organization, physi- 
cal health, fancy, friends,* and money — the last is, 
for the average man, greater than any other, except 
the first. Loss of money costs more lives than the 
loss of friends, for it is easier to find a friend than 
a fortune. Almost all muscle-workers are born, live, 
and die poor. To live on the slippery path that 
lies between extreme poverty on one side, and the 

* I do not liere refer to accumulated wealth exclusively, 
but to income or sufficient amount to purchase comforts and 
luxuries. Many persons (and notably successful professional 
men), live out their days in comfort and luxury, although they 
never succeed in accumulating fortunes ; to them, their reputa- 
tion is capital and wealth. 


guK of starvation on the other;, to take continual 
thought of to-morrow, without any good result of 
such thought ; to feel each anxious hour that the 
dreary treadmill by which we secure the means of 
sustenance for a hungry household may, without 
warning, be closed by 'any number of forces, over 
which one has no control, to double and triple all 
the horrors of want and pain, by anticipation and 
rumination, — such is the life of the muscle-working 
classes of modern civilized society ; and when Ave 
add to this the cankering annoyance that arises from 
the envying of the fortunate brain-worker who lives 
in ease before his eyes, we marvel not that he dies 
young, but rather that he lives at all.* 

3. Brain-worTcerfi live under hetter sanitary con- 
ditions than niusole-workers. They have better 
food and drink, warmer clothing, breathe purer air, 
and are less exposed to fatal accident and the 
poison of disease. None of the occupations are 
ideal ; none fulfil all the laws of health ; but the 
muscle-working callings are all more or less un- 
healthy ; tradesmen, artisans, common laborers, and 
even farmers (who combine muscle with brain 

* Tliose who question the truth of the above picture are re- 
ferred to any of the recently published essays and treatises on 
the condition of the peasantry of England. Observations show 
that in our own country, not only in large cities, but in all manu- 
facturing towns, and even in farming districts, the laboring classes 
are as badly circumstanced as I have stated. 


work), all are forced to violate sanitary law, every 
hour and moment ; not one out of ten have enough 
good food ; many are driven by passion and hunger 
to excess in the worst forms of alcoholic liquors ; 
for a large number, sleep is a luxury of which they 
never have sufficient for real recuperation ; health- 
ful air is but rarely breathed by the laboring classes 
of any large city ; exposure to weather, that brings 
on fatal inflammatory diseases ; accidents that cripple 
or kill ; — in all these respects, the muscle- worker, as 
compared with the brain-worker, is at stupendous 

4. The nervous temferament, which usically pre- 
dominates in irain-worlcers, is antagonistic to fatal, 
acute, inflammatory disease, and favorable to long 
life. Comparative statistics have shown that those 
in whom the nervous temperament prevails, live 
longer than those in whom any one of the other 
temperaments prevail, and common observation con- 
firms the statement. ISTervous people, if not too 
feeble, may die every day. They do not die; they 
talk of death, and each day expect it, and yet they 
live. Many of the most annoying nervous diseases, 
especially of the functional, and some even of the 
structural varieties, do not rapidly destroy life, and 
are, indeed, consistent with great longevity. I have 
known a number of men and women who were 
nervous invalids for half a century or more, and 


died at an advanced age. It is one of the compon- 
eations of nervousness that it protects the system 
against those febrile and inflammatory diseases that 
are so rapidly fatal to the sanguine and the phleg- 
matic ; the nervous man can expose himself to 
malaria, to cold and dampness, with less danger of 
disease, and with less danger of death if he should 
contract disease, than his tough and hardy brother. 
This was shown in our late war, when delicate, en- 
sanguined youth, followed by the fears of friends, 
went forth to camp and battle, and not only sur- 
vived, but grew stout amid exposures that pros- 
trated by thousands the lumbermen of Maine and 
the sons of the plough and the anvil. In the con- 
flict with fevers and inflammations, strength is 
often weakness, and weakness becomes strength — 
we are saved through debility. Still further, my 
studies have shown that, of distinctively nervous 
diseases, those which have the worst pathology and 
are the most hopeless, such as locomotor ataxia, 
progressive muscular atrophy, apoplexy with hemi- 
plegia, and so on, are more common and more se- 
vere, and more fatal among the comparatively vig- 
orous and strong, than among the most delicate and 
finely organized. Cancer, even, goes hardest with 
the hardy, and is most relievable in the nervous. 

The incidental and important proof of the cor- 
relation of nervousness and longevity is afforded in 


those statistics of the comparative longevity of the 

"Women, with all their nervousness — and in civil- 
ized lands, women are more nervous, immeasurably, 
than men, and sufEer more from general and special 
nervous diseases — yet live quite as long as men, if 
not somewhat longer; their greater nervousness and 
far greater liability to functional diseases of the ner- 
vous system being compensated for by their smaller 
liability to certain acute and inflammatory disorders, 
and various organic nervous diseases, likewise, such 
as the general paralysis of insanity. 

There is evidence that Americans, on the aver- 
age, live longer than Europeans, and American in- 
surance companies that have used the English life- 
tables as a basis for policies have gained thereby at 
the exjDense of the policy-holder. 

5. JSrain-workers can adapt their labor to their 
moods and hours and periods of greatest capacity 
for labor hetter than muscle-worJcers. In nearly 
all intellectual employments there is large liberty ; 
literary and professional men especially, are so far 
masters of their time that they can select the hours 
and days for their most exacting and impoitant 
work ; and when from any cause indisposed to hard 
thinking, can rest and recreate, or limit themselves 
to mechanical details. Thus, there is less of the 
dreadful in their lives : they work when work is 


eas}'-, when the desire and the power are in har- 
mony ; and, unlike their less fortunate brother iu 
the mill or shop, or diggings, need not waste their 
force in urging themselves to work. Forced labor, 
against the grain of one's nature, is always as ex- 
pensive as it is unsatisfactory ; it tells on the health 
and happiness and on life. Even coarser natures 
have their moods, and the choicest spirits are gov- 
ei*ned by them; and they who worship their moods 
do most wisely ; and those who are able to do so 
are the fortunate ones of the earth. 

Again, brain- workers do their best work between 
the ages of twenty -five and forty-five ; before that 
period they are preparing to work; after that 
period, work, however extensive it may be, becomes 
largely accumulation and routine. Lawyers and 
physicians do mi\ch of their practice after forty ; 
but to practice is easy, to learn is hard — and the 
learning is done before forty or forty-five. In all 
directions the French motto holds true: "It is the 
first step that costs." Successful merchants lay the 
foundations of fortune in youth and middle life, 
to accumulate, and recreate, and take one's ease in 
old age ; thus they make the most when they are 
doing the least, and only become rich after they 
have ceased trying to be so. With muscle-workers, 
there is but little accumulation, and only a limited 
increase of reward; and in old age, after their 


strength has begun to decline, they mnst, with in- 
creasing expense, work even harder than before. 

To this should be added the fact that manual 
employments cost nearly as much force after they 
are learned as before ; they can never, like many 
intellectual callings, become so far forth spontaneous 
as to require little effort. It is as hard to lay a 
stone wall after one has been laying it fifty years, 
as during the first year. The range of muscular 
growth and development is narrow, compared with 
the range of mental growth ; the day laborer soon 
reaches the maximum of his strength. The literary 
or scientific worker goes on from strength to 
strength, until what at twenty-five was impossible, 
and at thirty difficult, at thirty-five becomes easy, 
and at forty a pastime ; and besides he has the 
satisfaction that the work done so easily at thirty- 
five and forty is incomparably better than the work 
done with so much difficulty at twenty-five. 

Relation of Age to Work, deputation, and 

The true and only way by which the subject 
of the relation of age to work can be approached 
is by studying the history of the original work of 
the world, and noting the time of life at which it 
was done. 

Eeputation is, on the whole, as approximately 


correct, as it is the only test of ability of meu who 
have long been before the world. Fame rightly 
analyzed is, on the positive side, as truly a measure 
of cerebral force, as is the thermometer of heat 
or the barometer of atmospheric pressure. 

In differentiating the various classes of merit 
we should aim to represent, it is hardly necessary 
to say, not the opinion of any one, but the settled 
opinion of mankind. The number of illustrious 
names of history is by no means so great as is 
currently believed ; for, as the visible stars of the 
firmament, which at a glance appear infinite in 
number, on careful estimate are reduced to a few 
thousands, so the galaxy of genius, which appears 
interminable on a compi'ehensive estimate, pre- 
sents but few lights of immortal fame. Mr. Gal- 
ton, in his " Hereditary Genius," states that there 
have not been more than four hundred great men 
in history. I should be inclined to make an esti- 
mate more liberal and bring four hundred and 
fifty, or perhaps five hundred into the catalogue. 
I do not forget that Goethe has said that " fame is 
no surie test of merit, but only a probability of 
such ; " but the converse of this statement, that 
obscurity is no sure evidence of demerit, but only 
a probability of such, would more nearly approach 
truth. Brain-force, like all other great forces — 
light, heat, and electricity —is evolved in enormous 


excess of the apparent and immediate need of the 
world, and but a fraction is ever directly and es- 
pecially utilized. Only in rare instances is special 
or general talent so allied with influence, or favoi-, 
or fortune, or energy that commands circumstances, 
that it can develop its full functions; "things are 
in the saddle and ride mankind ; " environment com- 
mands the environed. If, however, through circum- 
stances, or in spite of circumstances, the power of 
any man becomes permanently felt in the world, 
we may be sure that it is a reality and not a 
sham ; we are not sure but that near him live in 
permanent obscurity a thousand men who, through 
ill favor or ill health, shall keep their colossal forces 
forever in reserve. The stars we see in the sky 
are but mites compared with the infinite orbs that 
shall never be seen ; but no star is a delusion — 
each one means a world, the light of which very 
well corresponds to its size and distance from the 
earth and sun. In the galaxy of history, sham, 
reputations go out in darkness like the meteors that 
flame across the heavens ; but every abiding reputa- 
tion — every name that shines along the ages — 
must have great deeds, or great thoughts to feed it. 
Routine and imitation work can no more confer the 
fame that comes from work that is original and 
creative, than the moon can take the place of the 


Distinctio7i letween Force omd the Results of 

In all our studies of this problem we must 
rigidly keep apart our ideas of force and the results 
of force. Just as heat in a room is the result of 
the combustion of the coal in the grate ; just as 
the moTement of a cannon-ball is the result of ex- 
plosion in the cannon; just so fame is the result- 
of mental work. It follows it, oftentimes, at a long 
distance — years or centuries — as the room remains 
warm after the fire is extinguished, and the cannon- 
ball speeds on its course after the gases — by the 
explosion of which it was discharged — bave been 

It is this confounding of force with the results 
of force, of fame with the work by which fame is 
attained that causes philosophers to dispute, deny, 
or doubt, or to puzzle over the law of the relation 
of age to work, as here announced. 

When the lightning flashes along the sky, we 
expect a discharge will soon follow, since light 
travels faster than sound; so some kinds of fame 
are more rapidly diffused than others, and are more 
nearly contemporaneous with their origin ; but as a 
law, there is an interval — varying from years to hun- 
dreds of years — between the doing of any original 
work and the appreciation of that work by any con- 
iiderable number of mankind that we call fame. 


The great men that we know are old men; but 
thej did the work that has made them great, when 
they were young; in loneHness, in poverty, often, 
as well as under discouragement, and in neglected 
or despised youth has been achieved all that has 
advanced, all that is likely to advance mankind.l 
The psychological distinction between original an d 
ro utine work is in the complete analysis of de- 
gree, rather than of kind ; since the operations of 
the brain — as of all organic nature — are processes 
rather than creations; but practically, the distinc- 
tion between original work of the highest kind and 
original work of a lower or ordinary kind — that 
is, between what we call genius and what we call 
imitation — we may consider as amounting almost 
to a difference in kind. The difference between an 
original man and a routine man is like that between 
a very fruitful tree and one that is comparatively 
barren ; both produce, and of the same kind of fruit, 
but the one of more and incomparably better than 
the other; more in quantity, larger, more luscious, 
exquisite and inviting in quality. In the brain of a 
genius ideas evolve as in the brain of a dullard, and 
by the same laws, but more easily and more rapidly, 
with higher, more extended, more complex, and 
more interesting branches and a more fragrant and 
extensive blossoming. In the man of genius, the 
idea starts where, in the man of routine, it leaves 


ofE, and it keeps on growing and growing; each 
unit of force or combination of nnits corresponding 
to the thoughts or combination of thoughts that the 
routinist or imitator could never have conceived ; 
this is the work that men call genius, which — in 
the language of evolution — is but a higher and 
richer growth of ideas in some one direction, or in 
many directions. 

Oria;inal work — that done by geniuses who have 
thereby attained immortal fame, is the only kind of 
work that can be used as the measure of cerebral 
force in all our search for this law of the relation 
of work to the time of life at which work is done; 
for the twofold reason — first, that it is the highest 
and best measure of cerebral force ; and, secondly, 
because it is the only kind of work that gives 
earthly immortality. As we estimate the strength of 
an engine or an electrical machine by so many horse- 
power, so we judge the strength of the brain by 
the original work that it can do ; but between the 
engine and the brain there is this difference — that, 
wliereas, in the case of the former we are able to 
estimate what it can do, whether it does it or not ; 
in the case of the brain, we are only able to judge 
inductively by what it has done ; and therefore, 
must refer to the biography of genius for the data 
out of which we are to construct the law of the 
relation of age to work. 


Men do not long remember, nor do tliey ear- 
nestly reverence those who have done only what 
everybody can do. We never look up, unless the 
object at which we look is higher than ourselves ; 
the forces that control .the rise and fall of reputa- 
tion are as inevitable and as remorseless as heat, 
light, and gravity; if a great man looms up from. 
afar, it is because he is taller than the average 
man ; else, he would pass below the horizon as 
we receded from him ; factitious fame is as im- 
possible as factitious heat, light, or gravity ; if there 
be force, there must have been, somewhere, and at 
some time, a source whence that force was evolved. 

The strength of a bridge is the strength of its 
weakest point — what it will bear at that point, 
under pressure ; the strength of a man is his 
strength at his strongest point • — what he can do in 
any one direction, at his very best. However weak 
and even puerile, immature, and non-expert one 
may be in all other directions except one, be gains 
an immortality of fame if, in that one direction 
he develops a phenomenal power; weaknesses and 
wickednesses, serious immoralities and wayward- 
nesses are soon forgotten by the world, which is, 
indeed, blinded to all these defects in the face of 
the strong illumination of genius. Judged by their 
defects, the non-expert side of their character,, 
moral or intellectual, men like Burns, Shakespeare, 


Socrates, Cicero, CsEsar, Napoleon, Beethoven, Mo- 
zart, Byron, Dickens, etc., are but as babes or luna- 
tics, and far, very far below the standard of their 

The above remarks are in part replies to the 
criticisms of the London Spectator and other jour- 
nals on these researches. The suggestion of Mr. 
Proctor, the astronomer, as presented by him in 
his very beautiful and thoughtful essay on tlie 
growth and decay of mind — and which was called 
forth apparently by these researches when they 
were first published- — is that the original work we 
do in youth keeps us from doing more original 
work in old age ; since the latter years of life are 
required to develop and perfect that which youth 
has conceived. That there is a truth in this sug- 
gestion all biography demonstrates; but it also, at 
the same time demonstrates with equal clearness, 
that when the old are brought to positions of emer- 
gency or crises where there is a demand for creative 
power they are usually wanting, even though they 
have originated nothing before ; even though they 
be men of intellectual force, they do not originate 
then, but must give way in battles, and campaigns, 
and inventions to the brazen and golden decade. 

Men to whom these truths are repelling, -put 
their eyes on those in high positions and in the 
decline of life, like Disraeli or Gladstone, forgetting 


that we have no proof that either of these mea 
have ever originated a new thought during the past 
twenty-five years, and that in all their contributions 
to letters during that time there is nothing to sur- 
vive, or worthy to survive, their authors. Tliey 
point to Darwin, the occupation of whose old age 
has been to gather into form the thoughts and 
labors of his manhood and youth, and whose only 
immortal book was the product of his silver and 
golden decade. They point to I cannot well num- 
ber how many philosophers and scholars who in 
their old age acquired, or are said to have acquired, 
ages ago, when there was little else to do, a certain 
knowledge of certain languages — the poorest, and 
thinnest, and least to be respected test of cerebral 

Method of InvesUgation. 

The method by which I sought to learn the law 
of the relation of age to work was to study in 
detail the biographies of distinguished men and 
women of every age. 

I have pi-epared a list embracing nearly all of 
the greatest names of history, whose lives are re- 
corded in sufficient detail to be of value in such an 
investigation, and have noted the age at which they 
did the original work by which they have gained 
their fame. I have noted the ages at which phi- 


losopliers have founded and announced their sys- 
tems ; at which divines and religious teachers have 
originated their creeds, and have been most effec- 
tive as preachers ; at which statesmen have un- 
folded their highest acts of legislation, of diplomacy 
and reform ; at v?hich men of science have made 
their greatest discoveries and written their best 
works; at which generals and admirals have gained 
their greatest victories, and carried on their most 
successful campaigns ; at which lawyers have led 
the bar, and physicians made their explorations in 
medicine, and artists have painted their master- 
pieces ; at which musicians have composed and 
performed their most illustrious creations; at which 
architects and engineers have planned and executed 
the greatest monuments to their memories ; at 
which actors and orators have been at the zenith 
of their power, and at which teachers and professors 
have led eras in the service of education. From 
these data, which, though not absolutely exhaustive, 
are sufficiently so for a final and convincing settle- 
ment of the questions involved, I have derived the 
period, the decade, and year of maximum produc- 
tiveness, and the various grades between this and 
the period, tlie decade, and the years of the least 

I have not overlooked the difficulties, the com- 
plications, and tho vti.oiig iorms of error involved 


in sucli an investigation, and have endeavored, so 
far as possible, to calculate and provide for them. 

The lives of some great men are not sufficiently 
defined to differentiate the period, much less the 
decade or the year of their greatest productive 
force. Such lives are either rejected, or only the 
time of death and the time of first becoming 
famous are noted ; very many authors have never 
told the world when they thought out or even 
wrote their masterpieces, and the season of publica- 
tion is the only date that we can employ. These 
classes of facts, it will be seen, tell in favor of 
old rather than of young men, and will make the 
year of maximum production later rather than 
earlier, and cannot, therefore, be objected to by 
those who may doubt my conclusions. In an inves- 
tigation so wide, and in the arrangement of facts 
gathered from so many sources, there is room for 
many numerical errors in regard to the dates of 
births, of deaths, and of special performances; but 
it is believed that these errors, though they may 
be numerous, are yet slight, and will, in the main, 
counterbalance each other. 

In a number of instances the honors that have 
been accorded to distinguished men — as knight- 
hoods, baronetcies, memberships of learned societies, 
or of legislative bodies — have been noted, and 
inasmuch as public honors, especially those which 


depend on kings and queens, princes and politi- 
cians, come late, and are in time very far behind 
the true deserts, the dates represented by them will 
be against young men rather than for them. For 
those who have died young, and have worked in 
original lines up to the year of their death, the date 
of death has sometimes been regarded as sufficient. 
Great difficulty has been found in proving the 
dates of the labors of the great names of antiquity, 
and, therefore, many of them are necessarily ex- 
cluded from consideration, but iii an extended com- 
parison between ancient and modern brain-workers, 
so far as history makes possible, there was but little 
or no difference. 

Number and Quality of Bwgraphies consulted. 

After analyzing the lives of seven hundred and 
fifty of the most eminent among the names of his- 
tory, including eighteen hundred dates from which I 
derived the law of the relation of age to work, as 
here described, and as represented in the accom- 
panying engi-aving, it seemed that it might be well 
to take an equal number of lives of less eminent 
persons ; the second, third, and fourth grades of 
distinction — those who are known only in limited 
lines, or in their lifetimes, whose lives are only 
recorded in special biographies, or to whom very 
slight space is given. 


The names in this second or supplementary list 
would be mostly unknown, except to specialists, 
whereas the names of the first list are known to all 
persons of general intelligence. This second or sup- 
plementary list was analyzed in the same way as 
the primary list, and it was found that the law 
was true of these, as of those of greater distinction. 
The conclusion is just, scientific, and inevitable, 
that if we should go down through all the grades 
of cerebral force, we should find this law prevail- 
ing among medium and inferior natures, that the 
obscure, the dull, and the unaspiring accomplished 
the little they did in the direction of relatively 
original work — laid the foundation of small fortunes 
— in the brazen and golden decades. 

To give the names in these lists is needless; 
since in them is included every famous person in 
any department of human activity where fame is 

These researches were originally made as far 
back as 1870, and were first made public in lectures 
delivered by me before the Long Island Historical 
Society. The titles of the lectures were, " Young 
Men in History, and the Decline of Moral Princi- 
pile in Old Age." 

Subsequently, and more elaborately, the subject 
was discussed in its medico-legal relations, in a 
paper read before the New York Medico-Legal 


Society. At a still later date I employed a niatbe- 
matician, Mr. David R. Alden, to go over the sub- 
ject anew, and independently ; he confirmed in all 
respect my conclusions. 

Finally, it should be remarked that the list has 
been prepared with absolute impartiality, and no 
name and no date has been included or omitted to 
prove any theory. The men who have done original 
or important work in advanced age, such as Dry- 
den, Kadetzky, Moltke, Thiers, De Foe, have aU 
been noted, and are embraced in the average. 


The" golden decade is between 30 and 40. 

The silver " 

40 ' 


The brazen " 

20 ' 


The iron " 

50 ' 


The tin " 

60 ' 


The wooden " 

70 ' 


Seventy per cent, of the work of the world is 
done before 45, and eighty per cent, before 50. 
The golden decade represents about twenty-five per 
cent, more dates than the silver. The difference 
between the first and second half of the golden de- 
cade is but slight. The golden decade alone repre- 
sents nearly one-third of the original work of the 
world. (See Drawing.) 

The best period of fifteen years is been 30 and 
45, The advantage of the brazen over the iron 




decade — of 20 and 30 over 50 and 60 — is veiy 
striking, and will cause surprise. There is consid- 
erably more work done between 35 and 40 than 
between 40 and 45. The year of maximum pro- 
ductiveness is thirty-nine. 

The average age of the . great personages from 
whose lives the law is derived is not far from sixty- 
six years. A very large number of them lived to 
be over seventy. On the average the last twenty 
years in the lives of original geniuses are unpro- 

The hroad fact, then, to which these statistics 
lead us is, that the hrain follows the same line of 
growth, maturity^ and decay as the rest of the hody ; 
that the nervous, muscular, and osseous systems rise, 
remain, and fall together, and that the received 
opinion that the mind, of which the irain is the 
organ, develo2Js and matures later than the power 
of motion or of physical labor and endurajice, is 
not sustained iy the facts of history. The capacity 
for production is greatest in the latter part of the 
first half of the full life of man. 

If in the same way, and in obedience to the 
same principles, we analyze the labors of those who 
are eminent for muscular force, the famous athletes, 
prizerfighters, the stroke-oarsman, and the pedestrians 
who win the belts — those who are leaders in trials 
of force on shipboard, in camp, in armies and in 


all sports, we shall find that here, also, youth con 
quers. In comparing muscle-workers with brain- 
workers in this respect, we must take those who, 
all their lives, live by muscle, or mainly by it, just 
as brain-workers live by brain. A comparison of 
this kind cannot fail to make clear this fact — tha'; 
muscle-workers very early reach their maximum, 
and that the capacity for work and for endurance 
of work is either stationary or on the decline after 
35 or 40. All -the athletes with whom I have con- 
versed on this siibject, the guides and lumbermen 
in the woods, ■ — those who have always lived solely 
by muscle — agree substantially to this ; that their 
staying power is better between the ages of 35 
and 45, than either before or after. To get the 
best soldiers, we must rob neither the cradle nor 
the grave ; but select from those decades when the 
best brain-work of the world is done. 

The result of my researches has been to demon- 
strate that mind, instead of being outside of law, is 
itself obedient to law, and that we are at our best 
mentally, just as we are at our best physically, in 
youth rather than in old age. 

I)isti7iction letween Original and Routine WorJc. 

The quantity of work done by the aged is 
greater than that done by the young; in quality 
the advantage is on the side of youth. Original 


work requires enthusiasm; routine work experience. 
In society both forces are needed — one makes the 
world move, the other keeps it steady. Men are 
their best at the time when enthusiasm and expe- 
rience are most evenly balanced. This period, on 
the average, is from 38 to 40. After this period 
the law is that experience increases but enthusiasm 
declines; like buckets in old-fashioned wells, as one 
goes up the other goes down. Unconsciously the 
people recogaize this distinction between the work 
that demands enthusiasm and that which demands 
experience, for they prefer old doctors and law- 
yers, while in the clerical profession, where success 
depends on the ability to constantly originate and 
express thought, young men are the more popular, 
and old men, even of great ability, passed by. In 
the editorial profession original work is demanded, 
and most of the editorials of our daily press are 
written by young men. In the life of every old 
mto there comes a point, sooner or later, when ex- 
perience ceases to have any educating power; and 
when, in the language of Wall St, he becomes a 
bear, in the language of politics a Bourbon. 

Ajc>]yarent and Real Excejptions to the Average. 
The most marked apparent exceptions to the law 
are found in the realm of imagination ; some of the 
greatest poets, painters, and sculptors, such as Dry- 


den, Eichardson, Cowper, Young, De Foe, Titian, 
Christopher Wren, and Michael Angelo, hare done a 
part of their very best work in advanced life. The 
imagery both of Bacon and of Burke seemed to in- 
crease in richness as they grew older. 

In the realm of reason, philosophic thought, in- 
vention and discovery, the exceptions are very rare. 
Nearly all the great systems of theology, metaphys- 
ics, and philosophy are the result of work done be- 
tween 20 and 50. The exceptions are both ways, 
and there are some who, like JSTapoleon, though 
they may die after 50, reach their prime long be- 
fore 38. 

The apparent exceptions to the law that original 
work is done chiefly in youth and early maturity 
are in the arts — painting, architecture, and acting; 
but pbyschologically analyzed, the artist in these 
realms, like the conversationalist, simply tests his 
work in his productions ; the work itself having 
been done, it may be, years before ; the painter 
speaks through his paintings, the sculptor through 
his statues, the orator and actor in their orations 
and readings as truly as the artist in conversation ; 
and in their several arts they but pour out the 
gathered treasures of a life. 

Michael Angelo and Sir Christopher Wren could 
wait for a quarter or even half a century be- 
fore expressing their thoughts in St. Peter's or 


St. Paul's ; but the time of the conception of 
those thoughts — long delayed in their artistic ex- 
pression — was the time when their cerebral force 
touched its highest mark. 

In the old age of literary artists, as Carlyle, 
Dickens, George Elliot, or Tennyson, the form may 
be most excellent ; but from the purely scientific side 
the work though it may be good, is old ; a repeti- 
tion oftentimes, in a new form, of what they have 
said many times before. Whence it is that none 
of the great thinkers or philosophers' in any age, 
or in any domain of thought, have done good work 
in old age ; for thought once uttered becomes old ; 
whereas art, appealing only to the senses and emo- 
tions, may with its infinite permutations and com- 
binations continue to give pleasure after copyings 
without number. The philosophy of Eacon can 
never be written but once ; to re- write it, to pre- 
sent it a second time, in a different dress, would 
indicate weakness, would seem almost grotesque ; 
but to statuary and painting we return again 
and again ; we allow the artist to re-portray his 
thought, no matter how many times ; we visit in 
succession a hundred cathedrals, all very much 
alike ; and a delicious melody grows more pleasing 
with repetition ; whence it is that in poetry — the 
queen of the arts — old age has wrought little, or 
not at all, since the essence of poetry is creative 


thought, and old age is unable to think; whence, 
also, in acting — the oldest of all the arts, the ser- 
vant of all — the best experts are often at their best, 
or not far below their best, save for the acquisition 
of new characters, in the iron and wooden decades. 

ISo art when once acquired is readily lost, even 
in advanced life ; but on the contrary, most of the 
arts may be refined and developed in age. Most 
strikingly is this illustrated in painting and sculp- 
ture, in which realms, as we have seen, quite old 
men have succeeded. Similarly with the art of 
writing — the style, the dress, the use of words, the 
art of expressing thoughts, and not of thinking. 
Men who have done their best thinking before 40 
have done their best writing after that period. 
This would appear to have been the experience of 
Dr. Johnson, Eousseau, and Voltaire. But the art 
of writing — the mere style of expressing thought — 
noble as it is — must- and does in the estimation of 
men, rank far below the art of thinking : it is 
thought, and not the language of thought, that best 
tests the creative faculties. In every form of art — 
painting, sculpture, architecture — it is the conception 
that tells, although conception needs execution to 
make it available. It is wise, therefore, for young 
phi.3sophers to do their thinking while young and 
in middle life, and to delay the permanent and 
final publication of their thoughts until they have 


also perfected the inferior but not unimportant art 
of clothing ideas in language. 

The conversation of old men of ability, before 
they have passed into the stage of imbecility, is 
usually richer and more instructive than the con- 
versation of the young ; for in conversation we 
simply distribute the treasures of memory, as a' store 
hoarded during long years of thought and experi- 
ence. He who thinks as he converses is a poor 
companion, as he who must earn his money before 
he spends any is a poor man. When an aged mil- 
lionnaire makes a liberal donation it costs him noth- 
ing ; he but gives out of abundance that has re- 
s^ilted by natural accumulation from the labors of 
his youth and middle life. When an old mau 
utters great thoughts, it is not age, but youth that 
speaks through the lips of age ; his ideas which, iu 
their inception and birth, drew heavily on the pro- 
ductive powers of the brain, are refined, revolved, 
and disseminated almost without effort. 

Childhood and Old Age hut Imitators. 

The creative period of life, it will be observed, 
is limited to fifteen years, between 25 and 40. An 
amount of work not inconsiderable is done before 25 
and a vast amount is done after 40; but at neither 
period is it usually of the original or creative sort 
that best measures the mental forces. ■ The work 


done before 20 and after 40 is usually work of imi- 
tation or routine. In early youth we follow others ; 
in old age we follow ourselves. Boys in school and 
college copy, commit, repeat, and but rarely think. 
Collegians who, in this country, graduate at the age 
of twenty-two or three, rarely give themselves tc 
fresh research, and almost never make any inven. 
tion or discovery; hence the barrenness of even 
the best prize essays and orations. Commencement 
orations are dull because the authors tell us noth- 
ing new; even their language is copied with slight 
variations from the authors whom they have most 
read and studied. Only the most precocious minds 
create thoughts before 20 ; from 25 to 30 the major- 
ity of thinkers begin to develop new ideas ; from 40 
and upwards they develop perfect and repeat the 
conceptions of the period between 25 and 40 ; they 
copy themselves as in early youth they copied others. 

Afjylication of the Law to Animals amd Plants. 

The same law applies to animals. Horses live 
to be about 25, and are at their best from 8 to 
14; this corresponds to the golden decade of man. 
Dogs live nine or ten years, and are fittest for the 
hunt between 2 and 6. Plants also appear to be 
subject to the same law. Fruit-bearing trees, so far 
as I can learn, are most prolific at a time of their 
average life corresponding pretty nearly to the golden 


and silver decade of man. Children born of par- 
ents one or both of whom are between 25 and 40, 
are, on the average, stronger and smarter than those 
born of parents one or both of whom are very much 
younger or older than this. The same fact applies to 
the breeding of horses, dogs, and probably of other 
animals. It should be noted also, that in women, 
the procreative function ceases between 40 and 50 
just the time when the physical and mental powers 
begin to decline, as though nature had foreseen this 
law and provided that the world should not be 
peopled by those whose powers had fallen from 
their maximum ; we are most productive when we 
are most reproductive. 

The law of the relation of age to work is very 
well illustrated by the egg-laying power of the hen. 
It has been estimated that in an average lifetime 
of nine years a hen will lay from 500 to 700 eggs, 
thus distributed: first year, 16 to 20; second year, 
100 to 120 ; third year, 120 to 135 (the golden per- 
iod) ; fourth year, 100 to 113 ; fifth year, 60 to 80 ; 
sixth year, 50 to 60 ; seventh year, 85 to 40 ; eighth 
year, 15 to 20 ; ninth year, 1 to 10. 

Man is but a higher animal, subject to the same 
laws, cabined by the same limitations, and illustrative 
of the same processes of growth and decay as the 
lowliest organisms in nature. The hen is a type of 


When Women are most Attraotive. 

In an interesting paper entitled " When "Women 
Grow Old," Mrs. Blake has brought facts to show 
that the fascinating power of the sex is oftentimes 
retained much longer than is generally assumed. 

She tells us of Aspasia, who, between the 
ages of 30 and 50 was the strongest intellectual 
foi-ce in Athens ; of Cleopatra, whose golden decade 
for power and beauty was between 30 and 40 ; of 
Livia, who was not far from 30 when she gained 
the heart of Octavius ; of Anne of Austria, who 
at 38 was thought to be the most beautiful queen 
in Europe ; of Catherine II. of Russia, who, even 
at the silver decade was both beautiful and im- 
posing; of Mademoiselle Mars, the actress, whose 
beauty increased with years, and culminated be- 
tween 30 and 45 ; of Madame Eecamier, who, be- 
tween 25 and 40, and even later, was the reigning 
beauty in Europe ; of Ninon de I'Enclos, whose own 
son — brought up without knowledge of his par- 
entage — fell passionately in love with her when 
she was at the age of 37, and who even on her 
sixtieth birthday received -an adorer young enough 
to be her grandson. 

These facts, the representatives of many others, 
establish that the golden decade of fascination is the 
same as the golden decade of thought ; that woman is 
most attractive to, and most influential over man at 


that period when both man and woman are nearest the 
maximum of their cerebral force. The voice of our 
great prima donnas is at its very best between 27 and 
35 ; but still some retains, in a degree, its strength 
and sweetness even in the silver decade. The voice 
is an index of the body in all its functions, but the 
decay of other functions is not so readily noted. 

A gentleman, being asked his age, replied as 
follows : "I am 27 ; not that it matters much, for 
it has always seemed to me that a man's age was 
not of the least consequence between 25 and 40. 
I should not like to be less than 20, nor more than 
40 : between these periods, I am indifferent to the 
progress of time." The name of the philosopher 
who made the above remark I do not know; but 
whoever he may be, he forestalled the law of the 
relation of age to work, as derived from these 
elaborately detailed researches. 

Mr. J. Appleton Morgan, in a private letter, 
calls my attention to the following : 

" In a ' Code of Centes Laws, or Ordinations of 
the Pundits,' from a Persian translation made from 
the original in the Sanscrit language (London, 1777), 
Pootee Chapter III., Section 8, of Proper and Im- 
proper Evidence (p. Ill), it is enacted that ' a 
devotee who becomes very infirm shall not be a 
witness.' " 


Illustrative Cases. 

Under this head I append a few representative 
biographical facts, which are taken impartially at 
random without reference to specialties, or classi- 
fication or to their bearing on the theory here ad- 
vanced, from the collection of nearly two thousand 
names that I have analyzed. They are given 
merely to show the method of investigation. 

As a lad of 16, Lord Bacon began to think in- 
dependently on great matters ; at 4A, published his 
great work on " The Advancement of Learning ; at 
36, published twelve of his Essays ; and at 60 col- 
lected the thoughts of his life in his " Organum." 
His old age was devoted to scientific investigation. 

At the early age of 29, Descartes began to map 
out his system of philosophy, and at 41 began its 
publication, and at 54 he died. 

Schelling, as a boy, studied philosophy, and at 
24 was a brilliant and independent lecturer, and at 
27 had published many important works ; at 28 was 
professor of philosophy and arts, and wrote his best 
works before 60. 

Dryden, one of the exceptions to the averages, 
did his best work when comparatively old; his 
" Absalom " was written at 50, and his " Alexander's 
Feast " when he was nearly 70. 

Dean Swift wrote his "Tale of a Tub" at 35, 
and his " Gulliver's Travels " at 59. 


Kuskin wrote the first part of the principal 
work of his life, " Modern Painters," at 28, though. 
it was not completed until seventeen years after- 
ward, when he was 45. " Seven Lamps of Architec- 
ture " appeared at 30, and " Stones of Venice " at 
33. None of his latter works have taken as deep a 
hold of the popular heart, and are so sure of being 
remembered by posterity as those which were com- 
posed before he was 35. 

Thackeray, after an unsuccessful youth, wrote 
" Yanity Fair " at 36 and 37, and " Esmond," which 
he regarded as his best work, at 41. But though 
he matured so late, he was but 51 when he sadly 
remarked to a friend : " Dickens and myself have 
worked out our vein, and what is more, the people 
have found it out." The judgment of the literary 
world would now accord with that of Thackeray. 

Charles Dickens wrote " Pickwick " at 25, 
"Oliver Twist" and "Nicholas Nickleby" before 
27, "Christmas Chimes" at 31, "David Copper- 
field" at 38, and "Dombey and Son" at 35. Thus 
we see that nearly all his greatest works were 
written before he was 40 ; and it is amazing how 
little all the writings of the last twenty years of 
his life took hold of the popular- heart, in com- 
parison with " Pickwick " and " David Copperfield," 
and how little effect the most enormous advertising 
and the cumulative power of a great reputation 


really have to give a permanent popularity to writ- 
ings that do not deserve it. If Dickens had died 
at 40 his claim to immortality would have been as 
great as now, and the world of letters would have 
been little, if any, the loser. The excessive me- 
thodical activity of his mature and advanced life'- 
could turn ofE works with fair rapidity ; but all his 
vast experience and all his earnest striving failed 
utterly to reach the standard of his reckless boy- 
hood. His later works were more perfect, perhaps, 
judged by some canons, but the genius of " Pick 
wick" was not in them. 

Emerson published the first series of his essays 
at 38, and the second at 41 ; and that these essays 
had been in his thoughts for years is evident from 
his statement that from his boyhood he had desired 
to write an essay on " Compensation." " Represen- 
tative Men " appeared at 46 ; " English !N"otes " at 
63 ; " Conduct of Life " at 56, and " Society and 
Solitude " at 6Y. It is, I believe, the view of many 
of his critics that the essence of his thought is em- 
braced in his earlier essays, which were written 
between 25 and 40, and that none of his subsequent 
writings are so sure of immortality as these. 

I find no record of any very important inven- 
tion conceived and developed after the age of 60. 
Edison with his three hundred patents, is not the 
only young inventor. All inventors are young. 


Colt was a boy of 21 when he invented the fa- 
mous weapon that bears his name ; and Goodyear 
began his experiments in rubber while a young 
man of 24, and made his first success at 38, and at 
43 had brought his discovery to approximate perfec- 

Eli Whitney invented the "cotton gin" at 27, 
and between 33 and 41 discovered and perfected 
his method of making fire-arms. 

Fulton at 28 had begun to study steam naviga- 
tion, and was 43 when he made his first success on 
the Hudson. 

Dreyse, the inventor of the needle-gun at 42, 
had, after various experimenting, at 49 constructed 
his first breach-loader. 

The name of Bichat is one of the greatest in 
science, and he died at 32. 

Graefe, the greatest of ophthalmologists, and one 
of the greatest men of history, was famous at 25 ; 
at 31 had a world-wide fame, and died at 42. 

Pinel at 35 had made an important investigation 
in science: at 40 took charge of an insane asylum 
and introduced his humane method; at 46 he 
gained a prize for an essay on the subject, and at 
47 was appointed to the Bicetre, where he intro- 
duced a great reform in the treatment of the insane. 

Turner at 15 exhibited to the Eoyal Academy, 
at 27 was an academician — painted his best works, 


"the Middle Period." in the years between 39 and 
45. The works of the last twenty years of his life 
are inferior. 

Handel at 19 was director of the opera at Ham- 
burg; at 20 composed his first opera; at 35 was 
appointed manager of the Eoyal Theatre at London ; 
at 25 composed " Messiah," and at 66 " Jephtha," 
and in old age and blindness his intellect was clear 
and his power of performance remarkable. 

Luther early displayed eloquence, and at 20 
began to study Aristotle ; at 29 was doctor of di- 
vinity, and when he would refuse it, it was said to 
him that "he must suffer himself to be dignified, 
for that God intended to bring about great things 
in the church by his name ; " at 34 he opposed the 
" Indulgencies," and set up his ninety-five proposi- 
tions ; at 37 he publicly burned the Pope's bull ; at 
47 he had completed his great task. 

Yon Moltke between 66 and 70 directed the 
operation of the great war of Prussia against 
Austria and France. But that war was but a con- 
clusion and consummation of military study and 
organization that had been going on for a quarter 
of a century. 

Nelson at 39 was distinguished at the battle of 
St. Yincent, and was knighted and made rear ad- 
miral. At the age of 40 he had been actually and 
personally engaged with the enemy one hundred 


and twenty times and liad gained the battle of the 
Nile, and was 47 at Trafalgar, whei-e he was killed 
in action. 

It is a fact of very great interest that the ex- 
periments and speculations that have led to the 
pretty generally adopted theory of the correlation 
of forces were made by young men. Thus : 

Eumford at 31 was a very successful adminis- 
trator in Bavaria; at 45 published the experiments 
on what he had been engaged, on heat, etc. Grove 
at 31 set forth his views on the correlation of 
forces, and at 4l was queen's counsel. 

Harvey at 40 made the discovery of the circula- 
tion of blood, and made it public at 49. 

Jenner at 21 began his investigation into the 
difference between cow-pox and small-pox. His 
attention was called to the subject by the remark 
of a country girl, who said in his hearing that she 
could not have the small-pox, because she had had 
the cow-pox. At 4Y he had perfected his great 
discovery. • 

If Carlyle had died at 45, the loss to literature 
would have been but slight; all that is best in his 
writings, all that has given him his renown, all 
for which he is to be remembered, was originated 
and mostly published before that date. During 
the last forty years of his life he went, mostly, on 
the momentum acquired in the first forty years; 


and it is one of -the proofs of his insight that he 
himself suspected, if he did not quite know this fact, 
and when urged to write, replied, "I have nothing 
more to say to the world, beyond what I have 
ali-eady said." The discoursings of this Titanian 
rhapsodist were perhaps never so rich, impressive, 
and amazing as in his old age ; but, like the con- 
versations of all old people, they were historical 
and biographical ; new, it may be, to the listener, 
but to the speaker very old; accumulated treasures 
of a lifetime brought out for exhibition and re- 
freshment, like old and rare wines from well-stocked 
cellars ; even fifteen years before his death a keen 
rejporter describes his conversation • — to which he 
listened for hours, as mostly a recital of " Sartor 
Resartus," and Characteristics of Past, -Present, and 
latter day pamphlets. 

JSTot Mr. Peabody at the age of 70, going up 
and down the land distributing his millions ; but 
Mr. Peabody young, u.nknown, laying the founda- 
tion for those millions, represents the highest and 
strongest capacity of the man ; the time when they 
gained materials for conversation, when they pros- 
pected, mined for, and analyzed their jewels which 
now, when well set and polished, they display to 
every visitor, was the time when they were at 
their maximum, for old men, like nations, can show 
their treasures of art long after they have begun 


to die; this, indeed, is one of the sweetest and most 
refreshing compensations for age; but we err, from 
a scientific point of view, if we confound exhibit- 
ing with originating. 

A contemporary leader in science (Huxley) has 
asserted that it would be well if all men of science 
could be strangled at the age of 60, since after 
that age their disposition- — with possible exceptions 
here and there — is to become re-actionary and 
obstructionists ; but such a course would be as un- 
wise as it would be cruel, since it would deprive 
us of the accumulations of thought which are only 
possible in old age. Killing ofE our millionnaires at 
that age would not be more unscientific and disas- 
ti'ous ; the thought, like the wealth of the world, 
is organized 'in youth, but multiplied, concentrated, 
diffused, and made practical in old age. 

The lives of some individuals are typical illus- 
trations of the law. I may mention as especially 
worthy of study in this regard the lives of Goethe, 
Humboldt, Wordsworth, Carlyle, Newton, and Liebig. 
A minute study of the intellectual history of these 
six men alone will illustrate the law of the relation 
of age to work, though it will not demonstrate it. 

Death is a process more than an event; even 
while we live we die ; living itself is but a mode 
of dying. We die, not in wholes, but in fractions, 
branch after branch falling away, until the tree is 


utterly bare. Those who long survive, are called 
upon to attend the funerals of their own forces, as 
they slowly perish, one by one. We are to bury 
Carlyle to-morrow, but he had been dying for a quar- 
ter of a century. 

Suggestions of Previous Thinkers. 

Although I have been the first to make the 
discovery of the Law of the Relation of Age to 
Worh and organize this subject in science as well 
as to point out its various practical applications, yet 
the general fact has been more or less anticipated 
by a number of illustrious thinkers. 

Thus Goethe, whose rich and powerful brain 
saw farther, into almost every subject than any of 
his contemporaries — soaring high on the wings of 
science and of song — in his conversations over and 
over again sings the praises of youth. Says he to 
Eckermann : " Yes, yes, my good friend, we must be 
young to do great things." And in another place, 
speaking of government, he said with emphasis : " If 
I were a premier I would never place in the high- 
est offices people who have risen gradually by mere 
birth and seniority, and who, in their old age, move 
on leisurely in their accustomed tracks ; for in this 
way but little talent is brought to light. I would 
have young men." 

Luther is reported to have said that : " If a man 


is not handsome at 20, strong at 30, learned at 40 
and rich at 50, he will never be handsome, strong, 
learned or rich in this world." In the light of 
these statistics this statement becomes a prophecy 
with a most remarkable fulfilment. Says Sterne 
"at sixty years of age the tenement gets fast out 
of repair, and the lodger, with anxiety, thinks of 
a discharge." Mr. Emerson, even in his excel- 
lent plea for old age, makes this admission : " "We 
do not count our years until there is nothing else 
to count ; " and of literary inactivity in old age he 
says, with high wisdom : " We postpone our literary 
work until we have more experience and skill to 
write, and we one day discover that our literary 
talent was a youthful effervescence which we have 
now lost." 

Schiller has expressed the same idea as his 
friend Goethe in the maxim : " Denn der Lebende 
hat Eecht " — " For he who lives is in the right." 
The French have a motto that must have been 
originated by some one who thought of these things, 
" Qui n'a point de sens a trente ans, n'en aura 
jamais," " He who has no sense at thirty years of age 
will never have any," and the words of Louis XIY., 
written with his own hand in the palace at Ver- 
sailles: "En il faut de la jeunesse" — "In everything 
youth is indispensible," are pi'obably the best he 
ever uttered. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, used this 


language: "New ideas build their nests in young 
brains ; revolutions are not made by men in spec- 
tacles, as I have heard it remarked ; and the whis- 
perings of new truths are not caught by those who 
begin to feel the need of an ear trumpet." 

The late General Halleck, in his book on " Mili- 
tary Science and Art," has a very interesting chap- 
ter on the age of the generals of the world ; in that 
he shows, by a powerful and convincing array of 
statistics, that, with a few exceptions, nearly all the 
successful campaigns of histoi'y have been fought by 
young men. The history of the campaigns of Na- 
poleon illustrates this point most astonishingly; his 
early successes were gained over old and worn-out 
generals, on whom great hopes had been centered > 
but he was finally overthrown by the young and 
middle-aged; at Waterloo he and Wellington were 
about the same age. 

In our recent civil war, the North began with 
old generals, and failed ignominiously at nearly 
every point, the average age of the generals and 
admirals (including Farragut) who put the war 
through was between 35 and 39. 

One of the most striking passages on this sub- 
ject is the following from Montaigne's Essay on Age : 

" For my part, I believe our souls are adult at 
20 as much as they are ever likely to be, and as ca- 
pable then as ever. A soul that has not by that 


time given evident earnest of its force and virtue 
will never after come to proof. Natural parts and 
excellences produce what they have fine and vigor- 
ous within that term or never : 

' Si I'espine non picque quand nai, 
A peur que picque jamais/ 

as they say in Dauphiny. Of all the great human 
actions I ever heard or read of, of what sort soever, 
I have observed, both in former ages and our own, 
more were performed before 30 than after, and often- 
times in the lives of the same men. May I not 
confidently instance in those of Hannibal and his 
great competitor, Scipo ? The better half of their 
lives they lived upon the glory they had acquired 
in their youth ; great men after, 'tis true, in com- 
parison of others, but by no means in comparison of 
themselves. As to myself, I am certain that since 
that age both my understanding and my constitution 
have rather decayed than improved, retired rather 
than advanced.* 'Tis possible that with those who 
make the best use of their knowledge and experi- 
ence may grow up and increase with their years ; 
but the vivacity, quickness, steadiness, and other 
qualities, more our own, of much greater impor- 
tance and much more essential, languish and decay. 

* This confession is all the more remarkable from the fact 
that the immortal essays of Moutaigne were not written down 
until he had passed the golden decade. 


' Ubi jam validis quassatum est viribus aevi 
Corpus, et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus, 
Claudicat ingenium, deli rat linguaque mensque. 

When once the body's shaken by time's rage, 
The blood and vigor ebbing into age, 
No more the mind its former strength displays, 
But every strength and faculty decays.'" 

The same author in his own old age, thus writes : 
"Two of ray acquaintances, great men in this fac- 
ulty, have in my opinion lost half in refusing to 
publish at forty years old that they might stay till 
threescore "... "Maturity has its defects as well as 
greenness, and worse;" . . . "our wits gi'ow costive 
and thick in growing old." 

Unpopularity of these Truths. 

These truths, unlike new truths in general, are 
acceptable to the old, but most unacceptable to the 
young and middle-aged. A former instructor of 
mine — a broad-minded and liberally cultured man, a 
well known professor — once remarked to me : " Tou 
can hardly expect any one about 38 or 40 to accept 
your theory." The reason for this is that not one 
of ten thousand ambitious men who have reached 
their fortieth year have at all fulfilled their ideal; 
those who have failed hope to succeed, and those 
who have somewhat succeeded aspire to nobler suc- 
cess in the future. The harvest is passing, the sum- 
mer over,, and they are neither as rich or famous 


as they hoped to become. It is Bot in ambitious 
human nature to be content with what we have been 
enabled to achieve up to the age of forty. Twice 
I have been told by men of ability, and culture, and 
achievement : " If your theoiy is true I ought to 
commit suicide." My reply in both cases was in 
substance this : The best of yoiir original, pioneer- 
ing, radical work is in all probability already accom- 
plished. The chances are tens of thousands to one 
that you will originate less in the future than you 
have in the past ; for, just as we know by statistics 
that a man at 40 has a certain average expectation 
of life, so do we know that he has a certain average 
expectation of original work. There is a chance 
in many, many thousands that he will live to be a 
hundred years old; there is about the same chance 
that he will make some phenomenal discovery or 
invention, or conceive and execute some original 
production in art. Fame and wealth may come to 
him far exceeding your wildest dreams ; but they 
will be the result and the reward of the work 
already done. Happiness may augment with years, 
because of better external conditions; and yet the 
highest happiness is obtained through work itself 
more than through the reward of work; earth has 
no joy like that which comes from the birth of a 
new thought in a young brain. 

It is now ten years since this reply -was made 


to the criticisms of these young men, and neither. of 
them have accomplished as much since that time as 
they had accomplished before. 

Moral Decline and Happiness in Old Age. 

The time of life at which men are happiest is 
a question that is germain to the one here dis- 
cussed. Says Chateaubriand, " The wind that blows 
on a hoary head never comes from a happy shore." 

The pleasure of doing original work to him 
who is organized for ideas is surely of a higher 
order than the pleasure of recognition and reward. 
Of the three motives to activity — wealth, fame, and 
satisfaction — the most potent to the strongest natures, 
in the highest realms, is surely satisfaction; he who 
declared that he would like to be forever 35, and 
he who on being asked his age replied that it was 
of little account provided that it was anywhere be- 
tween 25 and 40, but expressed the fact which these 
researches have formulated. Wealth is an element 
in happiness, the potency of which is both under 
and over rated, and almost all the wealth of the 
world is in the hands of age, since very few either 
by acquisition or by inheritance obtain large means, 
before the passing away of the golden and silver de- 
cade ; the world's work is done by youth and pov- 
erty. Capacity for original work age does not have, 
but in compensation it has almost everything else. 


The querulousness of age, the irritability, tlie 
avarice are the resultants partly of habit and partly 
of organic and functional changes in the brain. 

I Increasing avarice is at once the tragedy and the 
comedy of age ; as we near the end of our voyage 
we become more chary of our provisions, as though 
the ocean and not the harbor were before us. Ava- 
rice is indeed the offspring not of poverty or uncer- 
tainty, but of opulence and security ; those are chiefly 
avaricious who are most above the need of being so ; 
our intellectual ruin very often dates from the hour 
when we begin to save money, j 

Moral courage is rare in old age ; sensitiveness 
to criticism, fear of opposition, take the place, in the 
iron and wooden decades, of delight in criticism and 
love of opposition of the brazen and golden decades ; 
hostility is best borne by those whose reputation is 
yet to be made ; fame like wealth makes us cautious, 
conservative, cowardly, since it implies the possibility 
of loss. ) 

Intellectual decline sometimes favors the devel- 
opment of a kind of negative morality, for positive 
vice requires intellectual force as much as positive 
virtue, and when the intellect declines the man is 
obliged to be virtuous. .Physical health is also need- 
ed for indulgence in many of the vices ; in Bul- 
wer's language, " it requires a strong constitution 
to be dissipated." Probably on the whole men are 


happiest neither in youth nor extreme age, but in 
the silver and golden decades, about equally distant 
from the morning and evening shadows. 

As the moral and reasoning faculties are tlio 
highest, most complex, and most delicate develop- 
ments of human nature, they are the first to show 
signs of cerebral disease ; when they begin to decay 
in advanced life we are generally safe in predicting 
that, if neglected, other faculties will, sooner or 
later, be impaired. When conscience is gone the 
constitution may soon follow. 

The decline of the moral faculties in old age 
may be illustrated by studying the lives of the fol- 
lowing historic characters : Demosthenes, Cicero, 
Sylla, Charles Y., Louis XIV., Frederic of Prussia, 
Napoleon (prematurely old), Yoltaire, Jefliries, Dr. 
Johnson, Cromwell, Burke, Sheridan, Pope, JSTewton, 
Eu'skin, Carlyle, Dean Swift, Chateaubriand, Pous- 
seau, Miltoii, Lord Bacon, Earl Pussell, Marlborough, 
and Daniel "Webster. In some of these cases the de- 
cline was jDurely physiological, in others pathologi- 
cal ; in the majority it was a combination of both. 

Very few decline in all the moral faculties. 
One becomes peevish, another avai-icious, another 
misanthropic, another mean and tyrannical, another 
exacting and ugly, another sensual, another cold and 
cruelly conservative, another excessively vain and 
; mbitious, others simply lose their moral enthusiasm 


and their capacity for resisting disappointment and 
temptation. Prof. Tyndall, in his address on the 
scientific use of the imagination, admits these claims 
of the unproductiveness of age, but explains it by 
loss of enthusiasm more than of insight. 

There are not a few who are exceptions to the 
law of the decline of the intellectual and moral na- 
ture, just as there are exceptions to the universally 
accepted law of the decline of the physical nature. 
There are men who in extreme age preserve their 
teeth sound, their hair unchanged, their complexion 
fresh, their appetite sharp and digestion strong and 
sure, and their repose sweet and refreshing, and Avho 
can walk and work to a degree that makes their 
children and grandchildren feel very humble; but 
these observed exceptions in no way invalidate the 
general law, which no one will dispute, that the phys- 
ical powers reach their maximum between 30 and 
40, and that the average man at 70 is less muscular 
aud less capable of endurance than the average man 
at 40. Just so there are men who, for several de- 
cades, preserve their reason clear, their imagination 
rich and strong, their memory faithful, their con- 
science sensitive, their moral courage heroic, and 
their temper sweet and pure. There are those who 
sail into the harbor of old age freighted with well 
preserved treasures of virtue gathered during a Voy- 
age crowded with adventure, and difficulty, and peril. 


Compensations of Age. 

Longfellow, writing a class poem in his own old 
age, closes with these lines : 

"For age hath opportunity no less 
Thau youth itself, though in another dress ; 
And as the evening twilight fades away. 
The sky is filled with stars invisible by day." 

Subjecting these lines to psychological analysis 
it can be counted among the compensations of age 
that it obtains the reward denied it in maturity and 
youth ; that the appreciation of the work done in 
the silver, golden, and brazen decades is substituted 
for the pleasure of the work itself. 

The same author, after enumerating the familiar 
and doubtful catalogue of those who in life's decline 
have yet acquired new knowledge, presents this con- 
solation : 

" These are indeed exceptions, but they show 
How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow 
Into the Arctic region of our lives, 
'Till little else than life itself survives.'' 

To age is granted in increasing richness the 
treasures of memory and the delights of recognition 
Avhich most usually come from those who, at the 
time of the deeds whose value they recognize, were 
infants or unborn; only those who bury their con- 
temporaries, can obtain, during their own lifetime, 


the supremacy of fame. Mrs. Oarlyle, when con- 
gratulated on the honors given to her husband on 
the delivery of his Edinburgh address, replied with 
a certain disdain, as though he should have been 
honored before; but only by a reversal of the laws 
of the evolution of fame shall the manifestation of 
genius and the recognition of genius be simultaneous. 

The high praise of contemporaries is almost in- 
sulting, since it implies that he whom they honor is 
but little better than themselves. Permanent fame, 
even in this rapid age, is a plant of slow growth — 
first the blade ; then, after a time, the ear ; then, 
after many, many years, the full corn in the ear ; 
we have most reputation when we least deserve it. 
Single acts, however brilliant and important, rarely 
insure immortality ; the heights of glory are not 
scaled at a bound, but only by long climbing and 
many wearisome and painful steps. 

But the highest compensation of age in brain- 
workers, before the coming of the last childhood, 
is, as indicated above, that work grows easier and 
more automatic ; while the higher power of creating 
is disappearing, the lower, but for many the more 
needful, and witli contemporaries more quickly ap- 
preciated, power of imitation, repetition, and roii- 
tine, is increasing ; we can work without workiug, 
and enjoy without striving for the means of enjoy- 
ment, ~ 


Cmmparative Longevity of the Professions. 

Inasmuch as professional men do not usually 
change their caUings, but die in the special pro- 
fession in which they have lived, the vital statis- 
tics, at least of lawyers, physicians, and clergymen, 
become of value in determining their comparative 
longevity. I found in my researches, made several 
years ago, that lawyers and physicians lived to be 
about 57 or 58. The difference in the longevity of 
lawyers and physicians is but trifling. My observa- 
tions in this respect have since been variously con- 
hrmed by other statisticians.* (See Drawing p. 200). 

Longevity of the Precocious. 

That precocity predicts short life, and is there- 
fore a symptom greatly to be feared by jDarents, 
has, I believe, never .been questioned. In poetry 
and in science the idea has been variously incor- 
porated that early brilliancy is a sure indication of 

* An investigation made more recently by a Berlin physi- 
cian into the facts and data relating to human longevity shows 
the average age of clergymen to be 65 ; of merchants, 62 ; clerks 
and farmers, 61 ; military men, 59 ; lawyers, 58 ; artists, 57 ; and 
medical m.en, 56. Statistics are given showing that medical men 
in England stand high in the scale of longevity. Thus, the 
united ages of twenty-eight physicians who died there last year, 
amount to 2,354 years, giving an average of more the 84 years to 
each. The youngest of the number was 80; the oldest, 93 ; two 
others were 92 and 89, respectively ; three were 87, and four were 
8C each ; and there were also more than fifty who averaged from 
74 to 75 years. 


a feeble constitution and an early death. This view 
is apparently sustained by analogy, and by :facts of 
observation; plants that are soon to bloom are soon 
to fade ; those which grow slowly live long and de- 
cline slowly. Observing these facts we naturally ad- 
here to the opinion that the same principle should 
hold as regards men, but in making the analogy we 
forget that it loses its pertinency unless the objects 
implicated start in life with the same potential force 
and are surrounded by the same external conditions. 
It is probable that, of two individuals with pre- 
cisely similar organizations and under similar cir- 
cumstances, the one that develops earlier will be the 
first to die; but we are not born equally endowed 
and similai-ly environed, j^ot only are men unlike 
in organization, but they are very widely unlike ; 
between the brain of Shakespeare and the brain of 
an idiot is a measureless gulf, and we may believe 
that difference of degrees may be found between 
the greatest and simply great men ; we may believe 
that some are born with far more potential nervous 
force than others ; millionnaires in intellect as well 
as in money, who can afford to expend enormous 
means without becoming impoverished. An outlay 
of one hundred dollars may ruin the mechanic, 
working for his daily Avages, while the. royal mer- 
chant may spend a thousand, and barely know it. 
There are those who can begin their life-work car- 


liei, toil harder and longer, than the multitude, and 
yet attain a very great age. 

The average age of 600 illustrious men, includ- 
ing those who did not exhibit any special precoc- 
ity, was about 64.20. Of these 500 individuals, 
among whom there were 25 women, 150 were 
decidedly precocious, and their average age was 
66.50, or more than two years higher than that of 
the list of 500, that included the precocious and 
non-precocious. So far as I could ascertain, the in- 
stances of extraordinary longevity were as great 
among the precocious as among those who were 
not.* My investigations in this department fully 
confirm the remark of Wieland, that " an almost 
irresistible impulse to the art in which they are des- 
tined to excel manifests itself in future virtuosi — in 
poets, painters, etc., from their earliest youth." Not 
only in poetry and painting, but also in philosophy, 
in science, and in invention — indeed, in evei-y great 
department in which human nature has displayed 
itself, it is true, as Milton beautifully remarks, 
'' Childhood shows the man, as morning shows the 

* A contributor to the Galaxy for August (Gr. W. Winterburu) 
thus discourses concerning- musical prodigies. Investigating the 
records of the past two centuries, he finds 213 recorded cases of 
acknowledged prodigies. None of them died before their fifteenth 
year, some attained the age of 103 — and tlie average duration of 
life was 58 — showing that, with all their abnormal precocity, 
they exceed the ordinary longevity by about six per cent. 


day." Madden, in his " Infirmities of Genius," says, 
that " Johnson is indeed of the opinion that the 
early years of distinguished men, when minutely 
traced, furnish evidence of the same vigor or origi- 
nality of mind by which they are celebrated in after- 

The more closely I study biography, the more 
strongly I become convinced that the number of 
really illustrious geniuses who did not give early 
manifestations of their genius, is very limited. I 
do not forget that some of the currently reported 
exceptions are veiy striking; thus we are. told that 
Chalmers at school was stupid and mischievous; 
that Adam Clark, as a boy, could do nothing but 
roll huge stones about ; that of Sir "Walter Scott, 
his teacher. Professor Dalzell, frankly said : " Dunce 
he was and dunce he would remain ; " that Burns, 
though a good athlete, showed in 'his boyhood no 
unusual gifts ; that Goldsmith was " a plant that 
flowered late ; " that John Howard, and Napoleon, 
and "Wellington, were, to say the least, but little 
remarkable at school ; and that the father of Isaac 
Barrow is reported to have said that "if it pleased 
God to take away any of his sons, he prayed that 
it might be his son Isaac, as being the least prom- 
ising of them all." 

These exceptions, apparent and real, may be ex- 
plained in two ways : — 


Ifirst. The stupidity attributed to men of genius 
may be really the stupidity of their parents, guar- 
dians, and biographers. 

Men are precocious, if they are precocious at 
all, in the line of their genius. It is observed, as 
Wieland has stated, that almost all artists and mu- 
sicians are recorded as precocious, the exceptions 
being very rai'e. Music and drawing appeal to the 
senses, attract attention, and are therefore appre- 
ciated, or at least observed by • the most stupid 
parents, and noted even in the most superficial 
biographies. Philosophic and scientific thought, on 
the contrary, does not at once, perhaps may never, 
reveal itself to the senses — it is locked up in the 
cerebral cells ; in the brain of that dull, pale youth, 
who is kicked for his stupidity and laughed at for 
his absent-mindedness, grand thoughts may be si- 
lently growing ; the plant which to-day looks stunted 
and dwarfed may hereafter quicken into life, rise 
into strength and beauty — to give fruit and shade 
to many generations. Scott, for example, though he 
stood low in his class at school, yet very early ex- 
hibited genius as an inventor and narrator of " tales 
of knight-errantry, and battle, and enchantments ; " 
and Newton, according to his own account, was very 
inattentive to his studies and low in his class, but 
a great adept at kite-fiying, with paper lanterns at- 
tached to thera, to terrify the country people, of a 


dark night, with the appearance of comets; and 
when sent to market with the produce of his moth- 
er's farm, was apt to neglect his business, and to 
ruminate at an inn, over the laws of Kepler. 

It is fair to infer that the slowness attributed 
to many other distinguishefd geniuses may be simi- 
larly explained. This belief is strengthened by the 
consideration that many, perhaps the majority, of 
the greatest thinkers of the world seemed dull, in- 
ane, and stupid to their neighbors, not only in child- 
hood but through their whole lives. The brains 
as well as the muscles of men differ in the times 
of their growth; of a dozen individuals of the 
same endowments and external conditions, some will 
ripen early, others late. This is observed in colleges, 
where some who take the lead in everything, make 
no farther progress in after life ; they " strike twelve 
the first time ; " others who, between 15 and 25 are 
dullards, between 25 and 40 develop genius. 

It is proljable, however, that nearly all cases of 
apparent stupidity in young geniuses are to be ex- 
plained by the want of circumstances favorable to 
the display of their peculiar powers, or to a lack of 
appreciation or discernment on the part of their 
friends. It is very difficult to find any college grad^ 
uate of remarkable ability who did not, during his 
collegiate course, in some way manifest the germs 
of that ability, but there are many who fail in the 


proscribed, routine of studies in the race for literary 
honors, wlio yet, in some department or other, do 
attain distinction. As compared with the world, the 
most liberal curriculum is narrow ; to one avenue 
of distinction that college ■ opens, the world opens 
ten. In order to learn the material of which a' 
college class is made, it is necessary not only to 
look at the marks on the tutor's book and scan the 
prize lists of the societies, but a],so to go out on 
the ball-ground and down the river— we must min- 
gle in the evening carousal and study the social 
life of the students in their rooms, or their walks, 
in vacation, and at home. 

Whether we regard those general considerations 
or not, the statistical fact remains, that in spite of 
the incompleteness of biographies and the igno- 
rance of parents and teachers, a very considerable 
proportion of the greatest geniuses of the world are 
known to have heen as remarkable in their precocity 
as in their genius ; and in s]}%ts of this precocity 
were exceedingly long-lived. 

Normal vs. Morbid Precocity. 

Great precocity, like great genius, is rare. Al- 
though I have known but few children whom fond 
parents did not at some time believe to be more or 
less superior to the average, yet I do not remember 
that I ever saw a very precocious child. There is 


in some cliildren a petty and morbid smartness that 
is sometimes mistaken for precocity, but whicli in 
truth does not deserve that distinction. The mani- 
festation of genius in childhood is as normal and as 
healthful as its manifestation in maturity; but in 
childhood, as in extreme old age, the effects of 
ov^ertaxing the powers are more severely felt than in 
middle life. Petty smartness is oftentimes a morbid 
symptom ; it comes from a diseased brain, or from 
a brain in which a grave predisposition to disease 
exists ; such children may die young, whether they 
do or do not early exhibit unusual quickness. 

The morbidly precocious soon wear themselves 
out, early find their level, and in after life are 
stupid or ordinary ; the normally, physiologically 
precocious go on from strength to strength, and do 
not reach their maximum until between 30 and 40; 
and live longer and are capable of working harder 
than those of average gifts. There have been noted 
and oft-quoted instances where the precocious ge- 
niuses have died in early manhood, or just at reach- 
ing the maximum of their strength, between 30 and 
40. The names of Pascal, Mozart, Keats, will be 
at once recalled ; but we forget the infinite num- 
ber who have died at the same age or earlier, and 
of the same diseases; but who neither in childhood 
nor in manhood exhibited any superior genius. 
The only method of arriving at the truth on the 


question is the one here adopted ; that is, to obtain 
tlie average longevity of a large mimber who were 
known to have been greatly precocious, and com- 
pare it with the average longevity of other able 
men in the same departments. 

M. D. Delaunay has addressed to the French 
Societe de Biologie a communication in which he 
takes the ground that precocity indicates biological 
inferiority. To prove this he states that the lower 
species develop more rapidly than those of a higher 
order; man is the slowest of all in developing and 
reaching maturity, and the lower orders are more 
precocious than the higher. As proof of this he 
speaks of the children of the Esquimaux, negroes, 
Cochin Chinese, Japanese, Arabs, etc. 

Advance in civilization reduces precociousness, 
as is proved by the lowering of the standard for re- 
cruits in France, which has been made necessary 
twice during the present century. He also states 
that women are more precocious than men; and 
that from eight to twelve years of age, girls gain 
one pound a year over boys. Inferior tissues de- 
velop faster than higher ones — the brain being the 
last and slowest of all in reaching maturity. He 
also says that precocity of organs is in inverse ratio 
to the extent of their evolution. 

There is truth in all this reasoning, and it is 
in harmony with the instincts of mankind ; but 


it is not inconsistent with the absolutely demon- 
strated fact that the very precocious may be very 
long lived. The highest genius, as hero and else- 
where seen, never repeats itself ; very great men 
never have very great children; and in biological 
analysis, geniuses who are very precocious may be 
looked upon as the last of their race or of their 
branch — from them degeneracy is developed ; and 
this precocity, despite their genius, may be regarded 
as the forerunner of that degeneracy. 

Those who have not given special thought to 
this theme will be surprised to learn how early and 
how strikingly the genius of some of the greatest 
and longest lived heroes was displayed. Leibnitz, 
at 12 understood Latin authors well, and wrote a 
remarkable production ; Gassendi, " the little doctor," 
preached at 4 ; and at 10 wrote an important dis- 
course; Goethe, before 10, wrote in several lan- 
guages ; Meyerbeer, at 5, played remarkably well on 
the piano ; ISTiebuhi', at 7, was a prodigy, and at 12 
had mastered eighteen languages ; Michael Angelo 
at 19 had attained a very high reputation; at 20 
Calvin was a fully-fledged reformer, and at 24 pub- 
lished great works on theology that have changed 
the destiny of the world ; Jonathan Edwards, at 10, 
wrote a paper refuting the materiality of the soul, 
and at 12 was so amazingly precocious that it was 
predicted of him that he would become another 


Aristotle ; at 20 Melanchthon was so learned that 
Erasmus exclaimed : " Mj God ! What expectations 
does not Philip Melanchthon create ! " 

Causes of the Exceptional Longevity of Great 
Brain - Workers. 

The explanation of the surprising longevity of 
great brain-workers is quite comjDlex. The readiest 
answer to the problem would be that brain-work is 
healthful; and that, therefore, the better the brain 
and the harder it is worked, the longer the life of 
its possessor. Such a solution would not be entirely 
true ; and if it were true unqualifiedly, it would cleai- 
up but one side of the question. 

The answer is to be found, not in any single con- 
sideration, but in many considerations, as follows : — 

1. Great men usually come from healthy, long- 
lived ancestors. Longevity is a correlated inhei-itance 
of genius. In order that a great man shall appear, 
a double line of more or less vigorous fathers and 
mothers must fight through the battles for existence 
and come out triumphant. However feeble the 
genius may be, his parents or grandparents are 
usually strong ; or if not especially strong, are long 
lived. Great men may have nervous if not insane 
relatives ; but the nervous temperament holds to life 
longer than any other temperament. The great man 
may himself be incapable of producing other great 


men ; in him, indeed, tlie branch of tlie race to which 
he belongs may reacli its consummation, but the 
stock out of whicli he is evolved must be vigorous, 
and usually contains latent if not active genius. 
Longevity is hereditary, like all qualities or tenden- 
cies of organized life ; and if great men come from 
long-lived stock, this fact is a most potent explana- 
tion of their exceptional longevity.* 

2. A good constitution usually acGompafiies a good 
hrdn. The cerebral and muscular forces are often 
correlated ; the brain is a part of the body. This 
view, though hostile to the popular faith, is yet 
sound and supportable ; a large and powerful brain 
in a small and feeble body is a monstrosity. "When 
a specially small and delicate frame sustains a speci- 
ally large and potent brain, men wonder, as at a tree 
bowed to the earth by the weight of its overabun- 
dant fruit. Everywhere nature is a slave to the 
necessity of correlation or correspondence of parts 
and organs with each other; and unless she heeds it, 
all organized life would become awry and misshapen. 
In all the animal realm, there is a general though 

* I have had an opportunity to confirm the conclusion of Mr. 
Galton by observations made in the States. This is a young coun- 
try to study the inheritance of anything ; but out of a list of thrqe 
hundred Americans, who in science, in invention, in literature, ia 
statesmanship, in commerce, in art, and in war, have been more or 
less illustrious, more than two-thirds had distinguished relatives; 
over one hundred were fathers and sons, or grandfathers and 


not unvarying relation between the brain and the 
body of whicli it is a part and to which it minis- 
ters; a hundred great geniuses, chosen by chance, 
will be larger than a hundred dunces anywhere — 
will be broader, taller, and more weighty. In all 
lands, savage, semi-civilized, and enlightened — the 
ruling orders, chiefs, sheiks, princes by might and 
mind, scientists, authors, orators, and merchants of 
renown weigh more than the slaves, peasants, and 
riffraff over whom they rule ; and bear the evi- 
dences of their superiority so clearly that they 
need no other insignia. In any band of workmen 
on a railway, you shall pick out the " boss," by his 
size alone : and be right four times out of five. 
" In monstrosities Nature reveals her secrets," says 
Groethe. Those monstrosities where genius is cab- 
ined in a small body, show the law by their very 

3. Great men wTio are permanently successful 
have correspondmghj greater will than com/mon men y 
and force of will is a potent element in determin- 
ing longevity. The one requisite for great success 
is grit I and, more uniformily than any other single 
quality or combination of qualities, it is found in 
those who attain high distinction. In the grand 
struggle for life it is everywhere the stiff upper lip 
that conquers ; the timid and the yielding are cowed 
and crushed, and over them rise the courageous and 


the strong. In certain of the arts extraordinary gifts 
may lift their possessor into fame with biit little 
effort of his own, but the choicest seats in the tem- 
ples of art are given only to those who have earned 
them by the excellence that comes from consecutive 
effort, which everywhere test the vital power of the 
man. That longevity depends not a little on the 
will, no one will dispute. The whole subject of the 
relation of mental character to longevity is one of 
vast interest, and is too far-reaching to be here dis- 
cussed ; but this single point must be granted with- 
out argument, that of two men every way alike and 
similarly circumstanced, the one who has the greater 
courage and staying force will be the longer-lived. 
One does not need to practice medicine long to 
learn that men die that might just as well live if 
they bad resolved to live and that many who are 
invalids, could become strong if they had the na- 
tive or acquired will to vow that they would do so. 
Those who have no other quality favorable to life, 
whose bodily organs are nearly all diseased, to whom 
each day is a day of pain, who are beset by life- 
shortening influences, yet do live by the determina- 
tion to live alone. Races and the sexes illustrate this ; 
the pluck of the Anglo-Saxon is shown as much on 
the sick-bed as in Wall Street or on the battle-field. 
During the late war I had chances enough to see 
how thoroughly the black man wilted under light 


sickness, and was slain by disease over which his 
white brother would have easily triumphed. When 
the negro feels the hand of disease pressing upon 
him, however gently, all his spirit leaves him. The 
great men of history are as much superior in their 
will-power to the average of their fellows, as are 
the races to which they belong to the inferior and 
uncivilized races; they live, for the same reason 
that they become famous ; they obtain fame because 
they will not be obscure ; they live because they 
will not die. 

4. Great men worh more easily than ordinary 
men. Their expenditure of force to accomplish 
great things is less plenteous than the expenditure 
of ordinary men to accomplish small things. A 
Liverpool draft-horse draws with ease a load at 
which a delicate racer might tug and strain with 
out moving it. The greatest work is done easily; 
the best action is the unconscious; it is the essence 
of genius to be automatic and spontaneous. Many 
a huckster or corner tradesman expends each day 
more force in work or fretting than a Stewart or 
a Yanderbilt. "As small print most tires the eyes, 
so do little affairs the most disturb us ; " the nearer 
our cares come to us the greater the friction ; it is 
easier to govern an empire than to train a family. 
It is notorious that Beecher's sermons cost him 
only an hour's musing or so, while many speakers 


grind for a week over " efforts " that suggest no 
thought, except sorrow for the composer. Great 
genius is usually industrious, for it is its nature to 
be active ; but its movements are easy, frictionless, 
melodious. There are probably many school-boys 
10 have exhausted themselves more over a prize 
composition than Shakespeare over " Hamlet," or 
Milton over the noblest passages in "Paradise 
Lost." At one time I acted as surgeon on a gun- 
boat of the United States Navy on the blockade, 
which was under the command of a man who, I 
am sure, worried and distressed himself more over 
that little craft than did Admiral Farragut over 
the entire squadron. When he died, shortly after 
the close of the war, I was requested by his widow 
to use my influence in procuring a pension for her. 
This I was able to do most conscientiously, for I 
knew that he had worn himself out in the service,' 
although the vessel under his charge, while I was 
on board at least, never went into action, chased no 
blockade runner, and experienced not one moment 
of real or suspected peril. 

The Great Longevity of Clergymen. 

"When, in 1867, I first called attention to the 
fact that clergymen were longer-lived than any other 
large class of brain- workers, serious doubt was ex- 
pressed whether there might not be some error in 


my statistics. So much has been said of the pernic- 
ious effects of mental labor, of the ill-health of 
brain-woi'kei's of all classes, and especially of clergy- 
men, that very few were prepared to accept the 
statement that the clergy of this country and of 
England lived longer than any other class, except 
farmers ; and very naturally a lui-king fallacy was 
suspected. Other observers, who have since given 
special attention to the subject, have more than 
coniirmed this conclusion, and have shown that 
clergymen are longer lived than farmei's. 

The Eev. Josiah P. Tuttle, D.D., President of 
"Wabash College, Indiana, has ascertained the ages 
of 2,442 clergymen — 600 Trinitarian Congregation- 
alists, 317 Presbyterians, 231 Episcopalians, 268 
Baptists, 208 Methodists, 166 Unitarians, etc., — and 
found that the average was " a little over 61 years." 
" Considerably over one-half of the whole were 
over 60 years of age at their death; three-fourths 
of the whole were over 60 years old at death ; and 
seven-eighths of the whole were over 40 years of age 
at death." Dr. Tuttle found that the average age 
at death of 408 individuals (not clergymen), and 
who had died over 21 years of age, was a little over 
51 years. This result pretty nearly corresponds 
with mine. 

But by far the more thorough investigation on 
this subject, and one that must fully settle the ques- 


tion for all minds over whom facts have any influ- 
ence, has been made by E.ev. J. M. Sherwood, for- 
merly editor of " Hours at Home " (in which my 
])aper on longevity was originally published), and 
now Secretary of the " Society for Promoting Life 
Insurance among Clei'gymen." This gentleman has 
labored long and patiently in this department, and 
has ascertained that the average age of our min- 
isters at death is 64. 

These conclusions differ slightly from mine, but 
the difference is in favor of clergymen. Mr. Sher- 
wood informs me that he had obtained the average 
from a list of ten thousand clergymen, whose ages 
at death he ascertained at great labor by consulting 
" the minutes of ecclesiastical bodies for thirty years 
past, the catalogues of theological seminaries, Wil- 
son's ' Historical Almanac,' Dr. Sprague's ' Annals 
of the American Pulpit,' biographical dictionaries, 
the files of religious journals, etc." A list of ten 
thousand is sufficient and more than sufficient for a 
generalization; for the second five thousand did 
nothing more than confirm the result obtained by 
the first. It is fair and necessary to infer that if 
the list were extended to ten, twenty, or even one 
hundred thousand, the average would be found 
about the same. 

In England, also, clergymen ■ live to a greater 
age than any other class. According to the report 


of tlie Secretary of tlie Clerical Mutual Life As- 
surance Society, the mortality is less than that in 
twenty other companies by a very important per- 

Causes of the Exceptional Longevity of Clergy, 

The reasons why clergymen are longer lived than 
any other class of brain-workers are these : — 

1. Their callings admit of a wide variety of 
toil. — In their manifold duties their whole nature 
is exercised — not only brain and muscle in general, 
but all, or nearly all, the faculties of the brain — 
the religious, moral, and emotional nature, as well 
as the reason. Public speaking, when not carried 
to the extreme of exhaustion, is the best form of 
gymnastics that is known ; it exercises every inch of 
a man, from the highest regions of the brain to the 
smallest muscle. In his public ministrations, in his 
pastoral calls, in his study, in his business arrange- 
ments, in his general reading, the pastor exercises 
more widely and variously than any other calling. 

2. Comparative freedo'm from financial anxiety. — 
The average income of the clergymen of the lead- 
ing denominations of this country in active service 
as pastors of churches (including salary, house rent, 
wedding fees, donations, etc.), is between $800 and 
$1,000, which is probably not very much smallei 


than the net income of all other professional classes. 
Furthermore, the income of clergymen in active ser- 
vice is collecl.ed and paid vrith greater certainty and 
regularity, and less labor of collection on their part, 
than the income of any other class except, perhaps, 
government officials ; then, again, their earnings, 
whether small or great, come at once, as soon as 
they enter their profession, and is not, as with other 
callings, built up by slow growth. 

Worry is the one great shortener of life under 
civilization; and of all forms of worry, financial is 
the most frequent, and for ordinary minds, the most 
distressing. Merchants now make, always have made, 
and probably always will make, most of the money 
of the world ; but business is attended with so much 
risk and uncertainty, and consequent anxiety, that 
merchants die sooner than clergymen, and several 
years sooner than physicians and lawyers. 

The average income of 'families of all classes in 
this country is small — about $700 a year — and for 
the laboring classes, not more than half that sum ; 
and if the same efforts were made to obtain the de- 
tails of the financial history of every family in the 
land, as has been done in the case of clergymen, 
there would be some very dreary reading indeed. 

3. Their suj)erior mental endowments. — I speak 
calmly and discriminately, and from a careful com- 
parison of biographical data, when I say that clergy- 


men — as represented by the Congregational, Pres- 
byterian, Unitarian, and other leading denominations 
— have presented a higher average of the higher, 
though not, perhaps, of the very highest kinds of 
ability, than any other equally large class in modern 

During the past fifteen years, there has been a 
tendency, which is now rapidly increasing, for the 
best endowed and best cultured minds of our col- 
leges to enter other professions, and the ministry 
has been losing, while medicine, business, and science 
have been gaining. 

4. Their sicperior temperance and morality. — 
Clergymen are more regular in their sleep, meals, 
and exercise, than any other intellectual class; and 
are less exposed to injurious influences and conta- 
gious diseases than some other occupations. 

Consolation for the Nervous. 

Persons nervously organized are unquestionably 
cheated somewhat in the game of life, shorn of at 
least a portion of their possible happiness and use- 
fulness, prisoners of their own feebleness, with no 
certain hope of perfect and permanent liberation. 
There are those who come into life thus weighted 
down, not by disease, not by transmitted poison in 
the blood, but by the tendency to disease, by a sen- 
sitiveness to evil and enfeebling forces that seems 


to make almost every external influence a means of 
torture; as soon as tliey are born, debility puts its 
teri-ible bond upon them, and will not let tbem go, 
but plays the tyrant with them until they die. 
Such persons in infancy are often on the point of 
dying, though they may not die ; in childhood 
numberless physical ills attack them and hold them 
down, and, though not confining them to home, yet 
deprive them, perhaps, of many childish delights ; 
in early maturity an army of abnormal nervous 
sensations is ^^■aiting for them, the gauntlet of 
which they must run if they can; and throughout 
life every function seems to be an enemy. 

The compensations of this type of organization 
are quite important and suggestive, and are most con- 
solatory to sufferers. Among these compensations, 
this perhaps is worthy of first mention — that this 
very fineness of temperament, M'hich is the source 
of nervousness, is also the source of exquisite pleas- 
ure. Highly sensitive natures respond to good as 
well as evil factors in their "environment, salutary 
as well as pernicious stimuli are ever operating upon 
them, and their caj)acity for receiving, for retaining, 
and for multiplying the pleasures derived from ex- 
ternal stinmli is proportionally greater than that of 
cold and stolid organizations : if they are plunged 
into a deeper hell, they also rise to a brighter heav- 
eii ; their delicately-strung nerves make music to the 


slightest breeze ; art, literature, travel, social life, and 
solitude, pour out on them their selected treasures; 
they live not one life but many lives, and all joy is 
for tliem variously multiplied. To such tempera- 
ments the bare consciousness of living, when life is 
not attended by excessive exhaustion or by pain, or 
when one's capacity for mental or muscular toil is 
not too closely tethered, is oftentimes a supreme 
felicity. The true psychology of happiness is grati- 
fication of faculties, and when the nervous are able 
to indulge even moderately and with studied cau- 
tion and M'atchful anxiety their controlling desires 
of the nobler order, they may experience an exquis- 
iteness of enjoyment that serves, in a measure, to 
reward them for their frequent distresses. In the 
human system, as in all nature, everything is in 
motion, and all motion is rhythmical, and movement 
in any one direction is the more forcible and spon- 
taneous when it follows movement in another di- 
rection ; the motions that constitute what we call 
health are most delicious and satisfying when fol- 
lowing quickly after debility or pain. Perfect 
health of itself is not a' condition of positive hap- 
piness, and is not at all essential to happiness. The 
happiest persons I have seen, or expect to see, were 
partial invalids — not those who were racked and tor- 
tured with nameless agonies, or kept prostrate by 
absolute exhaustion, bnt who were so far under bond- 


age to susceptible nerves as never to realize even 
approximate health ; even in their slavery they were 
sufficiently free to indulge some, at least, of their 
higher faculties, and to that degree were capable of 
enjoyment all the more intense from contrast with 
the restrictions that disease imposed on the rest of 
their organization. I recall the case of a lady who, 
as an effect of severe functional nervous disorder, 
had become temporarily paralyzed, so that none of 
the limbs had power of self-motion, and yet she 
was apparently and really more joyous than the 
majority of those who have full physical liberty. 

The mystery, long noted by physicians, that 
patients who are half cured of a severe malady are 
more grateful than even those fully cured, is ex- 
plained by the fact that we need a certain degree of 
debility, a limited and bearable amount of pain or 
discomfort, to keep us constantly mindful by contrast 
of the pleasantness of our present state as compared 
with what it has been or might be. The physician 
who collects his fee before his patient has quite re- 
covered, does a wise thing, since it will be paid 
more promptly and more gratefully than after the 
recovery is complete. Nervous organizations are 
rarely without reminders of trouble that they escape 
— their occasional wakefulness and indigestion, their 
headaches and backaches and neuralgias, their disa- 
greeable susceptibility to all evil influences that may 


act on the constitution, keep them ever in sight of 
the possibility of what they might have been, and 
suggest to them sufferings that others endure, but 
from which they are spared. 

The most exquisite physical pleasure, it has been 
said, is sudden relief from violent pain. This pleas- 
ure is quite often the experience of the nervous r 
alternations of depression and vigor, of pain and the 
relief of pain, of wakefulness and sound sleep, mark 
the lives of thousands. While it is true that pain 
is more painful than its absence is agreeable, so 
that we think more of what is evil than of what is 
good in our environment, and dwell longer on the 
curses than the blessings of our lot, and fancy all 
others happier than ourselves, yet it is. true likewise 
that our curses make the blessings more blissful by 
contrast ; the bright colors of the picture seem all 
the lighter against the dark and stormy background. 

I have heard of a prominent public man who, 
when governor of his State, once remarked to aii 
acquaintance that he was suffering from a slight 
pain in his hand, and that it was the first real pain 
he had ever felt in his life. This statement was 
probably, in scientific strictness, untrue ; he had no 
doubt experienced pains, perhaps many of them, 
that had been forgotten, but his life must have 
been, up to that time, unusually free from physical 
evils. A freedom from disease so absolute as that 


can be a source of negative pleasure only; it is not 
of necessity any positive mental possession; it may 
not be thought of from year to year, any more than 
the existence of sunlight or of oxygen in the air, 
save when we are shut out from them, and there- 
fore can be but an uucertain element of consolation 
amid the struggles and disappointments of life. 

In contrast with this painless life there are in 
this land immense numbers who pass no day free 
from pain ; who are ever conscious, unless diverted 
by mental or other employment, of disagreeable if 
not distressing sensations ; and who, notwithstand- 
ing, are cheerful and, to a degree, in love with life. 

There are those who though never well are yet 
never sick, always in bondage to debility and pain, 
from which absolute escape is impossible, yet not 
withoiit large liberty of labor and of thought ; held 
by a long tether which gives them, within certain 
limits, free play, but never condemned to utter con- 
finement ; ignorant alike of perfect health and per- 
fect prostration. Such persons may be exposed to 
every manner of poison, may travel far and care- 
lessly with recklessness, even may disregard many 
of the prized rules of health ; may wait upon and 
mingle with the sick, and breathe for long periods 
the air of hospitals or of fever-infested dwellings, 
and come out apparently unharmed. 

When the poison of fever enters the strong, 


plilegmatic constitution, it at once intrenches itself 
and finds protection in its solid walls, and then is 
driven out only with difficulty; but in the nervous 
constitution there are no such means of defence — 
it is vulnerable on every side, and the intruder hav- 
ing no means of holding his position, ma^y be ex- 
pelled with slight effort. 

Natm^al History of Nervousness. 

The nervous may also find consolation in the 
fact of medical observation that nervousness, like 
other physical evils, tends to cure itself. After 
remedies, and even hygiene, have done their best, 
and have been foiled — after the wisest physicians 
have found their Waterloos or Sedans — time, co- 
operating with the natural growth of the constitu- 
tion, may bring deliverance. This recuperative ten- 
dency of the nervous system is stronger, oftentimes, 
than the accumulating poison of disease, and over- 
masters the baneful effects of unwise medication 
and hygiene. Between the ages of 25 and 35, 
especially, the constitution often . consolidates as well 
as grows, acquires power as well as size, and throws 
off, by a slow and invisible evolution, the subtile 
habits of nervous disease, over which treatment the 
most judicious and persistent seems to have little 
or no influence. There would appear to be organ- 
izations which at certain times of life must needs 


pass through the dark valley of nervous depression, 
and who cannot be saved therefrom bj any manner 
of skill or prevision ; who must not only enter into 
this valley, but, having once entered, cannot turn 
back : the painful, and treacherous, and agonizing 
horror, wisdom can but little shorten, and ordinary 
misdoing cannot make perpetual; they are as sure 
to come out as to go in ; health and disease move 
in rhythm ; the tides in the constitution are as 
demonstrable as the tides of the ocean, and are 
sometimes but little more under human control. I 
call up here the experience of a gentleman once 
under my care for profound and protracted disease 
of the nervous system, and wliose life, mainly 
through his own fault, was but a series of alterna- 
tions of ups and downs, which, though modified by 
treatment, could not be, at least were not, entirely 
broken up. One day, as I called to see him, he was 
much better than usual, and was clearly mending, 
and I made a remai-k to that effect. "Tes," said 
he, "I'm getting ready for another relapse." 

It is an important consolation for those who are 
in the midst of an attack of sick headache, for ex- 
ample, that the natural history of the disease is in 
their favor. In a few da3-s at the utmost, in a few 
hours frequently, the storm will be spent, and 
again the sky will be cleai', and perhaps far clearer 
than before the storm arose. 


Cycles of Debility. 

The capacity of the system for bearing pain, 
like its capacity for pleasure, is limited: it is 
only possible to suffer, as it is only possible to 
enjoy, a certain measure of sensation ; the power to 
appreciate disagreeable sensations is and must be 
restricted by the forces in the organism, and can 
no more exceed them than the drawing-power of 
the locomotive can exceed the measure of the latent 
force of the consumed fuel. Thus it is that nearly 
all severe pain is periodic, intermittent, rhythmical : 
the violent neuralgias are never constant, but come 
and go by throbs, and spasms, and fiercely-darting 
agonies, the intervals of which are absolute relief. 
After the exertion expended in attacks of pain, the 
tired nerve-atoms must need repose. Sometimes the 
cycles of debility, alternating with strength, extend 
through long years — a decade of exhaustion being 
followed by a decade of vigor. There are those also 
who pass entirely and permanently out of the stage 
of depression; whose constitutions, originally sen- 
sitive, capricious, untrustworthy^, slowly acquire 
strength and endurance, and are able to transmit 
these acquired qualities to their children and chil- 
dren's children. There are those who pass through 
an infancy of weakness and suffering and much 
pain, and through a childhood and early manhood 
in which the game of life seems to be a losing one, 


to a healthy and happy maturity ; all that is best in 
their organizations seems to be kept in reserve, as 
though to test their faith, and make the boon of 
strength more grateful when it comes. The early 
life of some of the world's best heroes was passed 
in debility and strife with maladies over which, in 
time, they became victorious. ISTot a few of the 
most useful and most honoi'ed names in history 
were scarcely thought worth the raising — the ques- 
tion being, not whether they should be famous and 
laborious, but whether they coiild live at all ; 
whether they must not early go down in the strug- 
gle for being. The fineness, the delicacy, the com- 
plexity of the highest organizations render them 
liable to manifold disturbance, to be more easily dis- 
ordered in the play of the various machinery than 
those of coarser and simpler fibre ; but, when once 
they have succeeded in adapting themselves to their 
environment, when the initial battle of the campaign 
of life has been won, they seem to be stronger 
for the oppositions and difficulties they have met 
and overcome, and may endure and achieve far 
more, and last all the longer. Changes in the con- 
stitution of the kind here described take place, as 
it sometimes appears, not through any regimen or 
care, but in obedience to inevitable development ; 
they are signs of growth, wliich may, indeed, be 
modified but not radically changed by any degree 


of medical skill or practical wisdom, and only the 
most atrocious and persistent violation of the laws 
of life can avail to absolutely arrest their progress. 

Nervousness a Constant War?ii?ig. 

Perfect health is by no means the necessary 
condition of long life; in many ways, indeed, it 
may shorten life ; grave febrile and inflammatory 
diseases are invited and fostered by it, and made 
fatal, and the self-guarding care, without which 
great longevity is almost impossible, is not enforced 
or even suggested. "The only fault with my con- 
stitution," said a friend to me, " is that I have 
nothing to make me cautious." Headaches, and 
. backaches, and neuralgias, are safety-valves through 
which nerve-perturbations escape, and which other- 
wise might become centres of accumulated force, 
and break forth with destruction beyond remedy. 
The liability to sudden attacks of any form of pain, 
or distress, or discomfort, under overtoil or from 
disregard of natural law, is, so far forth, a blessing 
to its possessor, making imperative the need of fore- 
sight and practical wisdom in the management of 
liealth, and warning us in time to avoid irreparable 
disaster. The nervous man hears the roar of the 
breakers from afar, while the strong and phlegmatic 
steers boldly, blindly on, until he is cast upon the 
shore, oftentimes a hopeless wreck. 


The familiar malady called writer's cramp,* for 
example, does not in its worst form usually attack 
the weak, but the comparatively strong ; it is, in fact, 
in its severer phase, the penalty for having a good 
constitution. Those who are sensitive, and nervous 
and delicate, whom every external or internal irrita 
tion injures, and who appreciate physical injury in- 
stantly, as soon as the exciting cause begins to act, 
cannot write long enough to get writer's cramp; 
they are wai-ned by uneasiness or pain, by weariness, 
local or general, and are forced to interrupt their 
labors before there has been time to receive a fixed 
or persistent disease. Hence it is that those who 
suffer from this disorder are surprised when the 
symptoms come upon them ; they declare that they 
have always been well, and wonder that they do not 
continue so : had they been feeble they would have 
been unable to persevere in the nse of the pen so 
as to invite permanent nervous disorder. As with 
this malady of writers, so with other afiEections not 
a few, some of which, are of a more serious and di- 
rectly fatal character. The nervous are frequently 
saved from incurable disturbances of the brain by a 
constant succession of symptoms that individually 
are trifling, but by their recurrence cause at first 

* See my paper entitled " Conclusions from the Study of Oue 
Hundred and Twenty-five Cases of Writer's Cramp and Allied 
Affections ; also Neurasthenia.'' Second edition, p. 138. 


annoyance, then uneasiness, and then positive dis- 
tress, and finally compel a moderation in labor, 
perhaps, a suspension of employment, which at this 
stage is all that the system needs for complete re- 
cuperation. Without such warnings they might 
have continued in a life of excessive friction and 
exhausting worry, and never have suspected that 
permanent invalidism was in waiting for them, until 
too late to save themselves either by hygiene or 
medication. When a man is prostrated nervously, 
all the forces of nature rush to his rescue ; but 
the strong man, once fully fallen, rallies with diiS- 
culty, and the health-evolving powers may find a 
task to which, aided or unaided, they are inade- 

The history of the world's progress from savag- 
ery to barbarism, from barbarism to civilization, and, 
in civilization, from the lower degrees towards the 
higher, is the history of increase in average lon- 
gevity, corresponding to and accompanied by in- 
crease of nervousness. Mankind has grown to be 
at once more delicate and more enduring, more 
sensitive to weariness and yet more patient of toil, 
impressible but capable of bearing powerful irrita- 
tion : we are woven of finer fibre, which, though 
apparently frail, yet outlasts the coarser, as rich and 
costly garments oftentimes wear better than those 
of rougher workmanship. 


The tendency to live long runs in families ; 
mental discipline also, the result of opportunities 
for education and intellectual society, becomes a 
family inheritance, and thus favors family lon- 
gevity. Even in this young country there are not 
a few well-known families in which longevity is . 
an heirloom, many of whose members have passed 
by a number of years the highest average age of 

Healthy Old Age. 

Among our educated classes there are nervous 
invalids in large numbers, who have never known 
by experience what it is to be perfectly well or 
severely ill, whose lives have been not unlike a 
inarch through a land infested by hostile tribes, that 
ceaselessly annoy in front and on flank, without ever 
coming to a decisive conflict, and who, in advanced 
age, seem to have gained wiriness, and toughness, 
and elasticity, by the long discipline of caution, of 
courage, and of endurance ; and, after having seen 
nearly all their companions, whose strength they en- 
vied, struck down by disease, are themselves spared 
to enjoy, it may be, their best days, at a time when, 
to the majority, the grasshopper becomes a bur- 
den, and life each day a visibl}'' losing conflict with 

I have known many who have survived a youth 


and manhood of -wearisome nervous invalidism, to 
an old a,^e of comparative vigor and freedom from 
physical vexation; until past fifty, or even sixty, 
they have never knovpn what it is to have no sense 
of weariness or pain ; the irritability, the sensitive- 
ness, the cajOTciousness of the constitution, between 
the ages of 15 and 45, have, in a degree, disappeared, 
and the system has acquired a certain solidity, stead- 
iness, and power ; and thus, after a long voyage 
against opposing winds and fretting currents, they 
enter the harbor in calmness and peace. 

Recent Progress in the Treatment of Nervous Dis- 

The nervous, likewise, have the consolation that 
progress of the most important character, indeed, 
unprecedented in its rapidity, has been made, and 
is now being made in the medical treatment of 
functional diseases of the nervous system. It may 
be doubted whether, in the history of disease of 
any kind, there has been made so decided and so 
satisfactory an advance as has been made within the 
last quarter of a century, in the treatment of ner- 
vousness in its various manifestations. This new 
treatment does not consist only in the use of medi- 
cines alone, although many new medicines have 
been introduced, and new modes of administering 
medicijies, and new ideas in regard to doses — smaller 


doses in some cases, and very miich larger in other 
cases ; bnt, also, in the scientific study of diet, of ex- 
ercise, of sleep, of rest ; in the application of such 
agencies as electricity, water, cold and hot, in va- 
rious forms, and by methods adapted to the nervous 
and sensitive constitution. One great factor in the 
modern treatment of these functional nervous dis- 
eases is individualization, no two cases being treated 
precisely alike, but each one being studied by itself 
alone. Among wise physicians, the day for whole- 
sale treatment of nervous diseases can never return. 
The result of all this progress is, that thousands 
who formerly would have suffered all their lives, 
and with no other relief except that which comes 
from the habitnal addiction to narcotics, can now 
be cured, or permanently relieved, or at least put 
into working order where they are most useful and 
happy. If, in the future, as in the past, nervous 
diseases are to be a measure of our civilization, — if 
every increase in the illuminating power of the 
mind is but an increase of surface to be eclipsed, — 
if all new modes of action of nerve-foi'ce are to bo 
so many added pathways to sorrow, — if each fresh 
discovery or invention is to be matched by some 
now malady of the nerves, — if insanity and epilepsy 
and neurasthenia, with their retinue of neuroses, 
through the cruel law of inheritance, are to be 
organized in families, descending in fiery streams 


through the generations, we yet have this assur- 
ance, — that science, with keen eyes and steps that 
are not slow, is seeking and is finding means of 
prevention and of relief. 



From the vantage-ground of the above facts and 
philosophy, and with the light afforded by the past 
and present experience of races and nations, it be- 
comes possible to see, though dimly and for a lim- 
ited period, into the physical fiiture of the Ameri- 
can people. In the twentieth century, as now, 
America will be inhabited by all the leading races 
of modern civilization, although by that time there 
will have been an enormous advance towards unity. 
At the present time it is observed that the process 
of Americanization among our recent foreigners, 
goes on with great rapidity ; the peculiarities of 
our climate being so decided, universal, and deter- 
minate, that even the second generation of stolid 
and plethoric Germans, often acquires the sharp- 
ness of features, delicacy of skin, and dryness of 
hair, that everywhere, and for a long period, have 
been rightly looked upon as American character- 
istics. I have seen highly nervous Englishmen and 
Irishmen, who early emigrated to this country and 
engaged in severe mercantile or professional pur- 


sidts ; such persons are sometimes so changed, even 
in a half or quarter of a century, as to become, in 
their physique, thoroughly Americanized. 

This increase of neuroses cannot be arrested sud- 
denly ; it must yet go on for at least twenty-five or 
fifty years, when all of these disorders shall be both 
more mimerous and more heterogenous than at pres- 
ent. But side by side with these are already de- 
veloping signs of improved health and vigor that 
cannot be mistaken ; and the time must come — not 
unlikely in the first half of the twentieth century 
— when there will be a halt or retrograde move- 
ment in the march of nervous diseases, and while 
the absolute number of them may be great, rela- 
tively to the population, they will be less frequent 
than now ; the evolution of health, and the evolu- 
tion of nervousness, shall go on side by side. 

delation of Health to Wealth and Poverty. 

Accumulated and transmitted wealth is to be 
in this, as in other countries, one of the safeguards 
of national health. Health is the offspring of rela- 
tive wealth. In civilization, abject and oppressed 
poverty is sickly, or liable to sickness, and on the 
average is short-lived ; febrile and inflammatory dis- 
orders, plagues, epidemics, great accidents and catas- 
trophes even, visit first and last and remain longest 
with those who have no money. The anxiety that 


is almost always bom of poverty ; the fear of still 
greater poverty, of distressing -want, of sickness that 
is sure to come ; the positive deprivation of food 
that is convenient, of clothing that is comfortable, 
of dwellings that are sightly and healthful ; the con- 
stant and hopeless association with misery, discom- 
fort, and despair ; the lack of education through books, 
schools, or travel; the absence of all but forced 
vacations — the result, and one of the worst results, 
of poverty — added to the corroding force of envy, 
and the friction of useless struggle, — all these fac- 
tors that make up or attend upon simple want of 
money, are in every feature antagonistic to health 
and longevity. Only when the poor become abso- 
lute paupers, and the burden of life is taken from 
them and put upon the State or pxiblic charity, are 
they in a condition of assured health and long life. 
For the majority of the poor, and for many of the 
rich, the one dread is to come upon the town ; but 
as compared with many a home the poorhouse is a 
sanitarium. The inmates of our public institutions 
of charity of the modern kind, are often the hap- 
piest of men, blessed with an environment, on the 
whole, far more salubrious than that to which they 
have been accustomed, and favorably settled for a 
serene longevity. Here, in a sanitary point of view, 
the extremes of wealth and poverty meet ; both 
conditions being similar in this — that they remove 


tlie friction which is the main cause of ill-health 
and short life. For the same reasons, well-rewu- 
lated jails are healthier than many homes, and one 
of the best prescriptions for the broken-down and 
distressed, is for them to commit some crime. 

The augmenting wealth of the American people 
during the last quarter of a century is already mak- 
ing its impress on the national constitution, and in 
a variety of ways. A fat bank account tends to 
make a fat man ; in all countries, amid all stages of 
civilization and semi-barbarism, the wealthy classes 
have been larger and heavier than the poor. "Wealth, 
indeed, if it be abundant and permanent, supplies 
all the external conditions possible to humanity that 
are friendly to those qualities of the physique — 
plumpness, roundness, size — that are rightly be- 
lieved to indicate well-balanced health : providing 
in liberal variety agreeable and nourishing food and 
■drink, tasteful and commodious homes, and com- 
fortable clothing; bringing within ready and tempt- 
ing access, education, and the nameless and power- 
ful diversions for muscle and mind, that only a 
reasonable degree of enlightenment can obtain or 
appreciate ; inviting and fortifying calmness, stead- 
iness, repose in thought and action ; inspiring and 
maintaining in all the relations of existence, a spirit 
of self-confidence, independence, and self-esteem, 
which, from a psychological point of view, are, in 


the fight for life, qualities of the highest sanitary 
impoi'tance ; in a word, minifying, along all the line 
of the physical functions, the processes of waste and 
magnifying the processes of repair. So insalubrious 
arc the hygienic surroundings of the abjectly poor 
that only a slow adaptation to those conditions makes 
it possible for them to retain either the power or 
the desire to live. In India this coincidence of cor- 
pulence and opulence has been so long observed that 
it is instinctively assumed ; and certain Brahmins, 
it is said, in order to obtain the reputation of wealth, 
studiously cultivate a diet adapted to make them fat. 

Poverty has, it is true, its good side from a hy- 
gienic as well as from other points of view; for, 
practically, good and evil are but relative terms, the 
upper and nether sides of the same substance, and 
constantly tending to change places. The chief 
advantage of poverty as a sanitary or hygienic force ' 
is that, in some exceptional natures, it inspires tho 
Tjish and supplies the capacity to escape from it 
and in the long struggle for liberty we acquire the 
power and the ambition for something higher and 
nobler than wealth ; the impulse of the rebound 
sends us farther than we had di-eamed ; stung by 
early deprivation to the painful seai'ch for gold, we 
often find treasures that gold cannot buy. But for 
one whom poverty stimulates and strengthens, there 
are thousands whom it subjugates and destroys, en- 


tailing disease and an early death from generation 
to generation.^ The majority of our Pilgrim Fa- 
tliers in New England, and of the primitive settlers 
in the Southern and Middle States, really knew but 
little of poverty in the sense in which the term is 
here used. They were an eminently thrifty people, 
and brought with them both the habits and the re- 
sxilts of thrift to their homes in the ISTew World. 
Poverty as here described is of a later evolution, 
following in this country, as in all others, the path- 
M-ay of a high civilization. 

In the centuries to come there will probably be 
found in America, not only in our large cities, but 
in every town and village, orders of financial nobil- 
ity, above the need but not above the capacity or 
the disposition to work : strong at once in inherited 
svealth and inherited character ; using their vast and 
3asy resources for the upbuilding of manhood, physi- 
jal and mental ; and maintaining a just pride in 
iransmitting these high ideals, and the means for 
.'ealizing them, to their descendants. Families tlms 
favored can live without physical discomfort, and 
work without worrying. Their healthy and M^ell- 
idjusted forces can be concentrated at will, and in 
the beginning of life, on those objects best adapted 
to their tastes and talents ; thus economizing and 
utilizing so much that those who are born poor and 
sickly and ignorant are compelled to waste in often- 


times fruitless stni^sjgle. The moral influence of 
such a class scattered through our society must be, 
on the whole, with various and obvious exceptions 
and qualifications, salutary and beneficent. By keep- 
ing constantly before the public high ideals of 
culture, for which wealth affords the means ; by ele- 
vating the now dishonored qualities of serenity and 
placidity to the rank of virtues, where they justly 
belong, and by discriminatingly co-operating with 
those who are less favored in their toils and con- 
flicts, they cannot help diffusing, by the laws of 
psychical contagion, a reverence for those same 
ideals in those who are able but most imperfectly 
to live according to them. Thus they may help 
to bring about that state of society where men 
shall no more boast of being overworked than of 
any other misfortune, and shall no longer be 
ashamed to admit that they have both the leisure 
and the desire for thought ; and the throne of 
honor so long held by the practical man shall be 
filled, for the first time in the history of this nation, 
by the man of ideas. The germs of such a class 
have even now begun to appear, and already their 
power is clearly perceptible on American society. 
The essence of barbarism is equality, as the essence 
of civilization is inequality ; but the increasing in- 
equality of civilization may be in a degree corrected 
by scientific philanthropy. 


Comparative Healthfuhiess of Different Orders 
of Brain - Work. 

While all brain-work is so far forth healthful 
and conducive to longevity, yet the different orders 
of mental activity differ very widely in the degree 
of their health-giving power; the law is invariable 
that the exercise of the higher faculties is more salu- 
tary and more energizing than the exercise of the 
lower. The higher we rise in the atmosphere of 
thought the more we escape the strifes, the competi- 
tions, the worryings and exhausting disappointments 
— in short, all the infinite frictions that inevitably 
attend the struggle for bread that all must have, and 
the more we are stimulated and sustained by those 
lofty truths for wliich so few aspire. The search for 
truth is more healthful as well as more noble than 
the search for gold, and the best of all antidotes 
and means of relief for nervou.s disease is found in 
philosophy. Thus it is in part that Germany, which 
in scientific and philosophic discovery does the think- 
ing for all nations, and which has added more to 
the world's stock of purely original ideas than any 
other country, Greece alone excepted, is less nervous 
than any other nation ; thus it is also that America, 
which in the same department has but fed on the 
crumbs that fall from Germany's table, has devel- 
oped a larger variety and number of functional ner- 
vous diseases than all other nations combined. 


Evolution in Relation to Natio7ial Health. 

The commanding law of evolution — tlie highest 
generalization that the human mind has yet reached 
— affords indispensable aid in solving the problem 
we are here discussing. This law, when rightly 
understood, in all its manifold dependencies, devel- 
opments, complications, ramifications, divergencies, 
sheds light on numberless questions of sociology 
which formerly were in hopeless darkness. It is a 
part of this law that growth or development in any 
one direction, or along any. one line of a race, 
family, or tribe, in time reaches its limit, beyond 
which it cannot pass, and where, unless re-enforced 
by some new or different impression or influence — 
a supply of vital force from some centre outside of 
itself to take the place of that which is expended 
in the exhausting processes of reproduction and ex- 
pansion — it dies utterly away Xot more surely 
does a branch of a tree subdivide into numerous 
twigs, all of which must sooner or later reach their 
respective terminations, than do the various families 
of any people tend to their own elimination. The 
jcapacity for growth in any given direction, physical 
lor mental, is always limited; no special gift of body 
or mind can be cultivated beyond a certain point, 
however great the tenderness and care bestowed 
upon it. The more rapid and luxurious the growth 
the sooner tlie supply of potential force is exhaust- 


ed ; and the faculty oi- gift, whatever it may be, 
is hDst, only to be renevred in an entirely distinct 
family, or by the" in jection of the blood and nerve 
of a radically different race. The infinity of nature 
is not in the endurance or permanency of any of its 
elements — everything is changing, everything is dy- 
ing — but in the exhaustlessness of the supply. In 
horses only a certain rate of speed, in cows only a 
limited milk-forming power, in fowls but a moderate 
fertility, can he reached in any line of stock by any 
degree of mortal prevision and skill. The dying is 
as natural and as inevitable as the living ; declen- 
sion is as normal as ascension, as truly a part of 
exceptionless law. In man, that higher operation 
of the faculties which we call genius is hereditary, 
transmissible, running through and in families as 
demonstrably as pride or hay-fever, the gifts as well 
as the sins of the fathers being visited upon the 
children and the children's children ; general talent, 
or some special talent, in one or both parents rises 
and expands in immediate or remote offsi3ring, and 
ultimately flowers out into a Socrates, a Shakespeare, 
a Napoleon, and then falls to the ground ; a very 
great man can never be the father of a very great 
man. In accordance with this law, it is inevit- 
able that many of the strong and great families of 
America at the present day must perish, and their 
places be supplied by the descendants of those who 


are now ignorant and obscure. This does not mean, 
as many have fancied, the dying out of the Ameri- 
can people : the race lives while tribes and families 
perish ; the periodical crops ripen and decay while 
the tree that produces them is every year adding to 
its growth. 

It is also a part of this law of evolution that 
the lower must minister to the higher. The 
strength of the strong must come, in part, fi'otn the 
weakness of the weak ; millions perish that hun- 
dreds may survive. That a single family may rise 
to enduring prominence and power, it is needful 
that through long generations scores of families shall 
endure poverty and pain and struggle with cruel 
surroundings; shall vainly desire and perhaps strive 
for wealth and fame and position and ease, and sink 
at last in the conflict. For every brain-worker there 
must be ten muscle-workers. Even in Greece, the 
flower of all the civilizations, the majority of the 
population were slaves ; that a few thousand might 
cultivate the intellect, hundreds of thousands must 
cultivate the soil. One cannot imagine a nation in 
which all should be rich and intelligent; for a 
people composed wholly of educated millionnaires, 
intelligence would be a curse and wealth the worst 
form of poverty. For America, as for all people, 
this law is as remorseless as gravity, and will not 
go out of its way at the beck either of philau- 


thropy or pliilosopliy. The America of the future, 
as the America of the- present, must be a nation 
where riches and culture are restricted to the few — 
to a body, however, the personnel of which is con- 
■ stantly changing. But although the distance be- 
tween the extremes of society will still be great, 
perhaps even greater than in the past, the poor will 
have comforts and luxuries which now they cannot 
even picture, and correspondingly their health and 
comeliness should improve. The conserving and re- 
generating force of a large body of nmsole-workers 
in society is enormous, and for the physical well-be- 
ing of a nation indispensable, since it not only pre- 
serves itself, but supplies the mateiial to be engrafted 
on branches whose productive power is tending to 
decay ; our cities would perish but for the country, 
our country would perish but for other countries. 

Yet further, it is a part of the law of evolution 
that nations, as well as the individuals of which na- 
tions are composed, can in time so fit themselves 
to unfavorable external conditions as practically to 
reverse them and make them favorable. This 
moulding of the internal to the external, with its 
accompanying disappearance of weak elements and 
persistence of the strong, is a process that never 
halts or wearies, but goes on without ceasing so 
long as there. is any want of harmony between the 
internal and the external in the individual or the 


nation. A nation thrust into an nnusual and hos- 
tile environment tends, with all the might of ita 
subjective forces, to fit itself to that environment, 
and to make itself at home there; old habits are 
dropped, new habits take their places ; instinctively 
or rationally, there is constant sacrifice and study 
aud deprivation, and correspondingly, friction of the 
internal against the external diminishes. Young 
America finds itself contending with the combined 
disadvantages of youth, an exhausting climate, aud 
the heightened activity, common to all civilization, 
made necessary by the introduction of the railroad, 
the telegraph, and the periodical press. In the pro- 
cess of moulding itself to these conditions, it has 
been found necessary to seek out and develop num- 
berless modes of physical exercise, and reduce the 
philosophy of enjoyment and recreation to a science 
and art. Habits of the ages have been shifted, 
medicine and medical practice revolutionized, while 
inventive skill everywhere exhausts itself in the 
constant effort to s-upply mechanical devices for 
senses and faculties bankrupted through over-con- 
finement, over-excitement, and disproportionate use 
of the brain and nervous system. In this cruel pro- 
cess thousands have perished — are perishing to-day ; 
but from the midst of this confusion, conflict, aud 
positive destruction a powerful and stable race has 
been slowly, almost imperceptibly, evolving. 


Prospective Increase of Nervous Diseases — 
Biebriety a Type of all. 

Before the redeeming forces that are in a meas- 
ure to neutralize our nervousness shall be in full 
operation, there must be a still greater, perhaps even 
more rapid increase of nervousness and of func- 
tional nervous disease. 

The inebriates of our day and country must be 
counted already by tens and tens of thousands, and 
by the twentieth century their numbers must be very 
umch greater ; the law of inheritance, which, briefly 
stated, is that we are j^arts of our parents, together 
M'ith the constant activity of the exciting causes of 
nervousness, as heretofore described, cannot be neu- 
tralized in the next quarter of a century, by any of 
the agencies suggested, to a sufficient degree to pre- 
vent rapid increase. 

Inebriety being a type of the nervous diseases 
of the family to whicli it belongs, may properly be 
here defined and differentiated from the vice and 
habit of drinking with which it is confounded. 

The functional nervous disease inebriety, or dip- 
somania, differs from the simple vice of drinking to 
excess in these respects : — 

First. The disease inebriety is more irresistible 
than the mere vice. The simple habit of drinking 
even to an extreme degree may be broken up by 
pledges or by word promises or by quiet resolution, 


but the disease inebriety can be no more cured in 
this way than can neuralgia or sick-headache, or 
neurasthenia, or hay-fever, or any of the family of 
diseases to which it belongs. 

Secondly. Inebriety is frequently or usually pre- 
ceded, or accompanied, or followed by certain ner- 
vous symptoms, and it is powerfully hereditary like 
all other nervous diseases. Of the nervous symp- 
toms that precede, or accompany, or follow ine- 
briety, are tremors, hallucinations, insomnia, mental 
depressions, and attacks of trance, to which I ajive 
tlie term alcoholic trance ; striking cases of this form 
of trance have been reported by Dr. T. D. Crothers. 
Inebriates or those who have a tendency to ine- 
briety — may go off for several days in states of un- 
consciousness of what they do, and are consequently 
irresponsible, and in this state may transact business 
and commit crime. The details of these cases of 
alcoholic trance are among tlie most interesting facts 
of medical literature ; and will be recorded in a 
work on trance on which I have been many years 
engaged. Among the nervous diseases there is no 
one, not even hay-fever, which is more demonstrably 
hereditary ; even drunkenness in a parent or graud- 
])arent may develop in children epilepsy or in- 
sanity, or neurasthenia or inebriety. 

Third. Inebriety is distinguished frequently \>j 
the suddenness of its attacks. These attacks may 


come on as suddenly as an attack of neuralgia of 
the face, witli no more warning than cases of epi- 
lepsy; in some cases simply coming in contact with 
salt air will bring an attack of inebriety. Some 
attacks are of a subjective character quite indepen- 
dent of any extei'nal irritations, and in that respect 
differ from the forms of intoxication. 

Foii/rth. Tiie attacks of inebriety may be peri- 
odical ; they may appear once a month, and with 
the same regularity as chills and fever or sick-head- 
ache, and far more regularly than epilepsy, and 
quite independent of any external temptation or in- 
vitation to drink, and oftentimes are as irresistible 
and beyond the control of will as spasms of epilepsy 
or the pains of neuralgia or the delusions of in- 
sanity. Inebriety is not so fi'equent among the 
classes that drink excessively as among those who 
drink but moderately, although their ancestors may 
have been intemperate ; it is most frequent in the 
nervous and highly organized classes, among the 
brain-workers, those who have lived in-doors ; there 
is more excessive drinking West and South than in 
the East, but more inebriety in the East. The habit 
of drinking may by insensible gradations develop 
into the disease inebriety ; in some cases an attack 
of inebiiety may appear without any previous habit 
of drinking. 

While there is to be, probably, less and less 


drinking in certain classes of American society dur- 
ing the next quarter of a century, there must, for 
the reason stated, be an increase of the disease ine- 
briety, and there is little doubt that even the West, 
beyond the Mississippi, must in time suffer from 
this malady ; already, indeed, our far-away States 
and Territories are enacting prohibitory laws, which 
are the combined products of our nervousness and 
our non-expertness. 

The opium habit, likewise, is fated to increase 
during the next quarter of a century. Within 
twenty years the amount of opium imported into 
this country has increased five hundred per cent., 
being in 1859 seventy-one thousand eight hundred 
and fifty-nine pounds, in 1880, three hundred and 
seventy-two thousand pounds ; probably no country 
outside of China uses, in proportion to population, 
so much opium as America, and as the pains and 
nervousness and debility that tempt to the opium 
habit are on the increase, the habit must inevitably 
develop more rapidly in the future than in the 
past ; of hay-fever there must, in a not very dis- 
tant time, be at least one hundred thousand cases in 
America, and in the twentieth century hundreds of 
thousands of insane and neurasthenics. 

Women, though more nervous than men, are not 
eo likely to suffer from inebriety, for two reasons : 

First. Because they have ou the negative side 


less temptation to drink than men, while on the pos- 
itive side they have socially more dissuasion from 
drinking ; thus positively and negatively they are 
impelled and driven into temperance ; but esxcep- 
tioiis enough there are among the women of our 
land to make it necessary to erect a lai-ge building 
for the treatijient of inebriety in females, as Dr. 
Turner is now doing. 

Increased Susceptibility to Muscular Exercise. 

There must be, also, an increasing number of 
people who cannot bear severe physical exercise. 
Few facts relating to this subject are more in- 
structive than this — the way in which horseback- 
riding is borne by many in modern times. In 
our country, I meet with large numbers who can- 
not bear the fatigue of horseback-riding, which 
used to be looked upon — possibly is looked upon 
to-day — as one o-f the best forms of exercise, and 
one that is recommended as a routine by physi- 
cians who are not discriminating in dealing with 
nervously-exhausted patients. I find it is necessary 
to be very careful indeed in recommending this 
mode of pleasure which our fathers could indulge 
in freely without ever asking whether it was healthy 
or not. 

I have been consulted by physicians whose ner- 
vous symptoms were brought on, or at least inten- 


siiied by horseback-riding in country places, and I 
have seen attacks of spinal congestion induced in 
the same way, in persons who are accustomed to 
that mode of exercise, and who are reasonably 
strong and enduring. The greatest possible care 
and the best judgment are required in prescribing 
and adapting horseback-riding to nervojis individuals 
of either sex ; it is necessary to begin cautiously, 
to go on a walk for a few moments ; and even after 
long training excess is followed by injury, in many 

Gymnastics, also, must be administered in small 
doses ; the nervous weaken themselves by trying to 
■ make themselves strong by dumb-bells, Indian clubs, 
parallel bars, and imitations of rowing; not because 
these exercises have not a place in hygiene, but 
because where the quantity of nervous force is 
limited there is the greatest danger possible of 
drawing too heavily upon it ; and especially is this 
true where there are classes and ambition of one to 
do what another can not do. If either extreme is 
to be chosen, it is well, on the whole, to err on the 
side of rest rather than on the side of excess of 
physical exertion. I can see that twenty-five years 
hence the number of those who, though they may 
be in reasonable health, yet can not ride, row, or 
exercise in gymnastics recklessly will be m\ich 
larger than now, and probably much greater in pro- 


portion to the population. A few years ago it was 
pretty safe to advise a person who was somewhat 
broken down to ride, or row, or practise gymnastics ; 
now, it is not safe to give that advice indiscrimi- 
nately, especially to natives of the United States. 

lieconstruction of Systems of Education de- 

The systems of education in colleges and uni- 
versities, and at home, are, in almost all respects, 
adapted to exhaust the nervous system — from their 
very cradles our children are trained to nervous- 
ness; our schools are too often on the road to the 

In the philosophic analysis of any case of ner- 
vous disease or of nerve sensitiveness not yet devel- 
oped into active disease, we are to go back to the 
ancestry, near or remote — then we are to go back 
to childhood — we are to follow the infant from 
the maternal arms through home-life, school and 
university, business and professional life, to the time 
when the symptoms of nervousness first appeared. 
For various reasons which can be traced and ana- 
lyzed, if one should choose to attempt the task, the 
science and art of education are kept in the rear 
of the other sciences and arts ; but during the last 
century, pre-eminently perhaps, during the last de- 
cade—most of all, indeed, during the last five 


years, and never more than during the past j'ear; 
there has developed an inquiry in the scientific studj- 
of the problems of education. This inquiry is to 
extend until the existing modes of discipline and 
instruction shall have only an historic and antiquar- 
ian interest. 

Why Education is 'behind other Sciences and 

Schools and colleges everywhere are the sanctu- 
aries of medigevalisra, since their aim and their pow- 
ers are more for retaining what has been discovered 
than for making new discoveries ; consequently we 
cannot look to institutions or orga,nizations of educa- 
tion for the reconstruction of that system by which 
they enslave the world and are themselves enslaved. 
It is claimed by students of Chinese character, that 
that great nation has been kept stationary through 
its educational policy — anchored for centuries to 
competitive examinations which their strong nerves 
can bear while they make no progress. In a 
}nilder way, and in divers and fluctuating degrees, 
all civilized . nations take their inspiration from 
China, since it is the office and life of teaching to 
look backward rather than forward ; in the rela- 
tions of men as in physics, force answers to force, 
and as the first, like the second childhood is alwaya 
reactionary, a class of youths tend by their col 


Icctive power to bring the teacher down more than 
he can lift them up. Only conservative natures 
are fond of teaching ; organizations are always in 
the path of their own reconstruction ; mediocrity 
begets mediocrity, attracts it, and is attracted by it. 
Whence all our institutions become undying centres 
of conservatism. The force that reconstructs an 
organization must come from outside the body that 
is to be reconstructed. To psychologists are we to 
look for the philosophy of education which in time 
is to give a new life to all the universities of the 

The Gospel of Best. 

The gospel of work must make way for the 
gospel of rest? The children of the past genera- 
tion were forced, driven, stimulated to work, and 
in forms most repulsive, the philosophy being, that 
utility is propoi'tioned to pain; that to be happy is 
to be doing wrong, hence it is needful that studies 
should not only be useless but repelling, and should 
be pursued by those methods which, on trial, proved 
the most distressing, wearisome, and saddening. That 
this philosophy has its roots in a certain truth psy- 
chology allows, but the highest wisdom points also 
to another truth, the need of the agreeable; our 
children must be driven from study and all toil, 
and in many instances coaxed, petied, and hired to 


be idle ; we must drive tliem away from schools as 
our fathers drove them towards the schools ; one 
must be each moment awake and alive and active, 
to keep a child from stealthily learning to read; 
our cleverest offspring loves books more than play, 
and truancies and physical punishments are far rarer 
than half a century ago. 

Dr. Pallen, of this city, has lately attempted to 
make some statistical study of the methods by which 
the schools, especially for girls, are conducted in this 

Of a large number of circulars of inquiry which 
he sent out, satisfactory replies were received only to 
a few ; but these were sufficient to clearly show that 
nearly everything about the conduct of the schools 
was wrong, unphysiological and un psychological, and 
that they were conducted so as to make very sad 
and sorrowing the lives of those who were forced 
to attend them ; it M'as clear that the teachers and 
managers of these schools knew nothing and cared 
nothing of those matters relating to education that 
are of the highest importance, and that the routine 
of the schools was such as would have been devised 
by some evil one who wished to take vengeance on 
the race and the nation. Scarcely anything taught 
that needs to be taught, almost everything that 
ought not to be taught, and which girls ought not 
to know, everything pushed in an unscientific and 


distressing manner ; nature violated at every step • 
endless reciting and lecturing and striving to be 
first ; such are the female schools in America at this 
hour; but this picture, dark as it is, is brightening 
in many features, at least in some respects they are 
less bad than they were a quarter of a century ago.* 

* Dr. Treicliler read before the sections ol Psychiatry and 
Neurology, at the 52d meeting of the German Association of 
Natural Historians and Physicians, in Baden-Baden, in 1879, a 
very important paper on " Habitual Headache in Children." 

From investigations at Darmstadt, Paris, and Neuremburg, he 
concludes* that one-third of the pupils suffer more or less from 
some form of headache. It is not probable that these headaches 
in children, vrhich are common enough in this country, are the 
result purely of intellectual exertion, but of intellectual exertion 
combined with bad air, with the annoyances and excitements 
and worries, the wasting and rasping anxieties of school life. If 
children would only study that which was well for them to study, 
and study only in a psychological way, — if their studies were con- 
ducted on sound psychological principles instead of in opposition 
to all psychological principles, as they are, and if the pupils 
lived in pure air instead of impure, headaches and other nerve 
symptoms would be far less frequent. 

Even studies that are agreeable and in harmony with the or- 
gans, and to which tastes and talents are irresistibly inclined, are 
pursued at an expenditure of force which is far too great for 
many nervously organized temperaments. I have lately had 
under my care a newly married lady who for some years has been 
in a state of neurasthenia of a severe character, and of which the 
exciting cause was devotion to music at home ; long hours at the 
piano, acting on a neurasthenic temperament given to her by in- 
heritance, had developed morbid fears and all the array of ner- 
vous symptoms that cluster around them, so that despite her fond- 
ness for a favorite art she was forced to abandon it, and from that 
time was dated her improvement, though at the time that I was 
called in to see her she had yet a long way to travel before sh- 
would reach even approximate health. 


It may be affirmed that the education of the 
future will difEer from the education of the present 
and the past in these vital features : 

First. The recognition of the fact that there is 
very little in this world worth knowing. Nearly all 
that passes for, and is believed to be, knowledge, is 
but different expressions of ignorance ; and for these 
the interest is psychological only. The reconstruc- 
tion of the principles of evidence, the primary need 
of all philosophy, which cannot much longer be 
delayed, is to turn nearly all that we call history 
into myth, and destroy and overthrow beyond 
chance of resurrection all but a microscopic fraction 
of the woi'ld's reasoning. Of the trifle that is 
saved, the higher wisdom of coming generations 
will know and act upon the knowledge that a still 
smaller fraction is worthy of being taught, or even 
remembered by any human being. 

Secondly. A recognition of the fact that out of 
all real knowledge but a trifle, an infinitessimal 
portion, is to be acquired by any individual. The 
fact that anything is known, and true and im- 
portant for some, is of itself no reason why all 
should know or attempt to know it; one- might 
as well expect to devour every eatable substance, 
because it is eatable and nutritious, as to know ev- 
ery thing because it is known, and is of value to 
mankind. ■ 


111 selecting ideas, as in selecting food, we are 
to consider relativity of individual capacity and the 
organic differences of taste and assimilative power 
in different individuals, and in the same individ- 
ual at different times, and under diverse surround- 

^Ignorance is power as well as joy, as even our 
knowledge takes its roots in our lack of knowledge ; 
to know one thing, we must needs be ignorant of 
many other things, a -very general though accurate 
acquaintance with what is farthest from us in sci" 
ence, and exhaustive knowledge of what is nearest 
to us and most in the line of our tastes and duty — 
the harmonizing of these two aims is the true ideal 
of scholarship. The constant and unwavering ad- 
mission of the fact that the human brain, in its 
very highest evolution, is an organ of very feeble 
capacity indeed, is the preliminary truth, by start- 
ing from which we shall reach other and more com- 
plex truths in the science and art of mental train- 
ing. The brain can hold but little— it is more like 
a sieve than a target — allowing the majority of 
all external irritations to sweep over it, leaving no 
trace of their presence. 

An army to make swift marches must dismiss 
its heavy baggage and take only what is imperative 
for a day; so the brain that is to do its best must 
forego or forget impedimental facts that have been 


forced into it. In modern days an unscliooled Edi- 
son, an unknown Bell or Gray, seize upon scientific 
inventions or discoveries that the grand scholar in 
universities, with all the appliances and all past 
experiences at his hand, shall not even comprehend. 
Thus even our sciences would seem to flourish best 
in the soil of ignorance and non-expertness. 

Our children are coaxed, cajoled, persuaded, en- 
ticed, bluffed, bullied, and driven into the study of 
ancient and modern tongues ; though the greatest 
men in all' languages, whose writings are the in- 
spiration to the study of languagies, themselves knew 
no language but their own; and, in all the loftiest 
realms of human creative power the best work has 
been done, and is done to-day, by those who are 
mostly content with the language in which they 
were cradled. A quart measure that is filled to the 
brim with water has no room for wine, and the 
brain that is packed with foreign words and dialects 
is usually incapable of thinking, in any language; 
of all accomplishments, the ability to speak and 
write in many tongues is the poorest barometer of 
intellectual force, and the least satisfactory for hap- 
piness and "practical use ; a hundred pennies a day 
would buy for a lifetime the best couriers in 
Europe. } 

Shakespeare, drilled in modern gymnasia and 
universities, might have made a fair school- master, 


but would have kej)t the world out of Hamlet and 
Othello ; — the popular delusion that one cannot 
know his own language without first knowing 
others, being best of all refuted, so far as it is pos- 
sible for a single case in illustration to do, by the 
fact that the chief creator of our language knew no 
language, not even his own, and thus was made free, 
bold, and powerful to originate and organize. 

Of the sciences multiplying every day, but few 
are to be known by any one individual ; he who 
has studied enough of the systematized knowledge 
of men, and looked far enough in A^arious directions 
in which it leads to know which his tastes and en 
vh-onment best adapt him to follow, and who reso- 
lutely obeys his tastes, even in opposition to all 
teachers, philosophers, and scholars, has won the 
battle of life — success is his, even although he does 
nothing more; he has only to fold his arms, rest 
upon his oars, and float into victory. 

Thirdly. The recognition of the fact that not 
knowledge, but the power to acquire and use knowl- 
edge, is the supreme need. The athlete in fencing, 
boxing, sparring, rowing, running, or acrobatics, de- 
velops the power, that he may use it when the time 
comes. In physical training, modern customs, with 
some exceptions and extremes, are mostly wise ; in 
intellectual training, we have been mostly unwise ; 
Bince our schools load us with baggage far beyond 


onr strengtli, in the unscientific expectation that we 
will gain strength by carrying it. 

/' It is of little concern how much or how little a 
man knows, but it is of all concern whether lie 
knows how to know, and to concentrate, and vitalize 
his knowledge. He whose mental discipline is so 
perfect that all his faculties play together like per- 
fect machinery, and with the least friction, and most 
economical expenditure of force, finds the aecpisi- 
tion of the knowledge necessary for his mental 
peace or for the acquirement of a livelihood, or 
glory, but trifling sport ; and without conscious toil 
he rejects the useless and harmful, passes by all 
obstructions and goes straight and swift to the heart 
of truth. Mental discipline of this kind is secured 
in various ways ; nearly all forms of self-culture in 
all the paths that lead to success, require a cer- 
tain grade of intellectual control ; the study of the 
art of thinking, of the philosophy of reasoning, 
in mathematics, poetry, science, literature, or lan- 
guage, is the best exercise for those who would gain 
this mental discipline ; but the art of thinking is 
what the schools have never thought of teaching, 
save through the century-old formula of logic that 
lead more to error than to ideas, and are, to a vi- 
talized system of reasoning, what a log hut is to 
the tree out of which it was constructed. The art 
of thinking, the study of the reconstructed princi- 


pies of evidence can be made most fascinating as 
well as valuable, even to the immature mind, and 
mental discipline acquired by this process is far 
more complete, and attained at incomparably less 
cost of force, time, and money, than the methods of 
the schools. \ j 

Fourthly. A recognition of the fact that educa- 
tion is but evolution — a mental growth — and, like 
all else in nature, without leaps, breaks, or chasms, 
from the single and simple elements towards the 
complex and multiform. The brain grows — the 
whole nervous system grows, and the mind grows 
with it, like a tree of the field, and the processes of 
education should follow the same natural processes. 
The mind does grow in this way — despite all the 
organized attempts to prevent it — the child becomes 
an adult by the assimilation of food, no matter how 
unwholesome it may be or how ill-advisedly, stint- 
ingly or extravagantly it may be given — the mind 
grows by assimilating the assimilable products of 
the vast and unnutritious material that is cast upon 
it, just as the tree grows by absorbing and vitalizing 
the inorganic constituents of earth and air. We 
can stunt the mind, as we can stunt the tree ; wo 
can aid the progress of the tree by fertilization and 
care — so we can aid the growth and progress of 
the mind in analagous ways; but, whether stunted 
or highly developed, the mind, like the tree, grows ; 


60 far as it makes any progress at all, it must grow ; 
it cannot be fed by burying it in learning, any 
more than can the tree be nourished through the 
Eupport of props and slabs. I 

Fifthly. A recognition of the fact that very 
much knowledge that may be acquired is for tem- 
porary use only, to be laid aside when the occasion 
for its use is past. The brain is so organized that 
it can take possession of a' fact at order, through a 
short or a long time, as may be needed, to be sur- 
rendered at the end of that time, just as we give 
notes, for a month, six months, a year or more. 
This psychological fact all actors understand, and 
they commit their parts with the expectation which 
is always met, that they may forget them in a week 
or more, as may be needed. To them the brain is a 
hotel where the words make but a short stay, or 
perhaps, stop but for a night, then pass on ; were 
they to become permanent guests, the space would 
be at once over-crowded, and there would be no 
room for new comers. la all spheres of thought, 
the most hospitable of intellects, the most generous 
in their welcome to new truths or dreams of truth, 
are those who have once learned the great secret 
of life— how to forget. He who wisely acquires 
and wisely forgets will be likely to use wisely what 
he needs. 

Conscientious professors in colleges oftentimes 


exhort their graduates to keep up some of the stud- 
ies of college life during the activity of years 
— if those graduates are ever to do much in the 
world, it is by doing precisely not what they are 
thus advised to do. As well might they be urged 
to take with them their dumb-bells, their boxing- 
gloves, their Indian clubs, and bear them on their 
persons all their lives, and hang their boat shells 
and oars on their shoulders, because with these agen- 
cies they have gained strength of muscle, as to take 
with them in their brains, the- mathematics, the phi- 
losophy, the logic through which their intellect has 
been trained. The details of geography, of mathe- 
matics, and of languages, ancient as well as modern, 
of most of the sciences, ought, and fortunately are, 
forgotten almost as soon as learned, save by those 
who become life-experts in these special branches ; 
success in life of the highest order for the educated 
man, may oftentimes be measured by the rapidity 
and completeness with which he has forgotten what 
he has been taught in colleges and schools. 

Sixth. The recognition of the fact that the truly 
psychological and most economical method of edu- 
cation is that which makes the most use of all the 
senses. The mind is a highly evolved sense, and 
it is to be fed and developed from the roots up- 
ward, as a tree draws its nourishment from the soil. 
The education of the schools has sought, so far as 


may be, to reverse the laws of nature, and to feed 
tLe tree throngli the leaves and branches. To put 
knowledge into the brain through other avenues 
than the senses, is like carrying food to a city and 
climbing over the walls or undermining them, in- 
stead of going through the open gates. The sys- 
tems of Froebel and Pestalozzi, and the philosophy 
of Eousseau in his "Emile," analyzed and formu- 
lated in physiological language, is, in substance, 
that it costs less force and is more natural and easy 
to get into a house through the doors, than to break 
down the walls, or come thi-ough the roof, or climb 
up from the cellar. Modern education is burglary; 
we force ideas into the brain through auy other 
pathway and every other way except the doors and 
windows, and then we are astonished that they are 
unwelcome and so quickly expelled. Fortunately 
nature is stronger than our system of education, and 
our children, in spite of all our efforts, do get their 
education through tlie senses, since all the knowl- 
edge they acquire is obtained and retained through 
processes of mental imagery ; they see with the 
mind's eye, though we close their eyelids. When 
a child reads history or biography or geography, it 
must unconsciously form the mental image of that 
which it is reading ; it must see the men, the bat- 
tle, the country, the city, else it gains no fact. All 
education should be clinical. We should see tbe 


case at the bedside ; indeed, a right understanding 
of what medical education is and what medical ed- 
ucation ought to be, and what it is to be, unlocks 
the whole mystery of the general subject of educa- 
tion. Medicine has been taught in all our schools 
in a way the most unphilosophical, and despite all 
the ]nodifications and improvements of late years, 
• by bedside teaching and operations and demonstra- 
tions, the system of medical education is in need 
of i-econstruction from the foundation ; it begins 
where it should end; it feeds the tree through the 
leaves and branches instead of through tlie roots ; 
physiology itself is taught unpliysiologically ; the 
conventional, hereditary, oi-thodox style is, for the 
student to take systematic text-books, go through 
them systematically from beginning to end, and at- 
tend systematic lectures, reserving study at the bed- 
side for the middle and later years of his study ; 
the didactic instruction coming first, and the prac- 
tical instruction and individual observation coming 
last. Psychology and experience require that this 
should be reversed ; the first year's of the medical 
student's life should be given to the bedside, the 
laboratory and dissecting room, and the principles 
of systematic instruction should be kept for the 
last years, and then used very sparingly. The 
human mind does not work systematically, and all 
new truths enter most easily and are best retained 


wlien they enter in psychological order. System in 
text-books is a tax on the nerve-force, costly both 
of time and of energy, and it is only by forget- 
ting what has been taught them in the schools, 
that men even attain eminence in the practice of 

The first lesson and the first hour of medical 
study should be at the bedside of the sick man ; 
before reading a book or hearing a lecture, or even 
knowing of the existence of a disease, the student 
should see the disease, and then, after having seen 
it and been instructed in reference to it, his read- 
ing will be a thousand-fold more profitable than it 
would had he read first and seen the case afterwards. 
Every practitioner Avitli any power of analyzing his 
own mental operations, knows that his reading of dis- 
ease is always more intelligent after he has had a 
case, or while he has a case under treatment under 
his own eyes, and he knows also that all his reading 
of abstract, systematic books is of but little worth 
to him when he meets his first case, unless he re- 
read, and if he do so, he will find that he has for- 
gotten all he has read before, and he will find, also, 
that he never understood what he read, and per- 
haps thoroughly and accurately recited on examina- 
tion. By this method one shall learn more what is 
worth learning of medicine in one month, than 
now we learn in a year, under the common system, 


and what is learned will be in hand and usable, and 
will be obtained at incommensurably less cost of en- 
ergy, as well as of time. So-called " systematic in- 
struction," is the most extravagant form of instruc- 
tion, and is really no instruction, since the informa- 
tion which it professes to give does not enter the 
brain of the student, though the words in which it 
is expressed may be retained, and recited or written 
out on examination. I read the other day an open- 
ing lecture by a professor in one of our chief medi- 
cal schools. I noticed that the professor apologized 
for being obliged to begin with what was dry and 
uninteresting, but stated that in a systematic course 
it was necessary to do so. It will not be his fault 
only, but rather the fault of the machinery of which 
he is one of the wheels, if the students who listen 
to and take notes of and worry over his lecture, 
never know what he means; five minutes study of 
a case of rheumatism or an inflamed joint, under 
the aid of an expert instructor, will give a person 
more knowledge of inflammation, in relation to the 
practice of medicine, than a year of lectures on that 

I make particular reference to medical education, 
not because it is the leading offender, but because 
it has made greater progress than, perhaps, almost 
any other kind of modern education. It is already 
half a convert to the extreme revolutionary view 


that I am here advocating, and the next generation 
it will be a whole convert to it ; and the time will 
come when men shall read with aransement and 
liorror of intelligent, human, and responsible young 
men beginning a medical course by listening to 
systematic abstract lectures. All the other systems 
of professional education need the same reconstruc- 
tion. In theological seminaries, students are warned 
about preaching, or speaking, or lecturing during 
their first or second year, and tied and chained 
down to lectures and homiletics, and theology and 
history, just as medical students are warned about 
seeing the sick, to the study and relief of wliicli 
their life is devoted. Aside from the study of lan- 
guage, which is a separate matter, the first day's 
work in a theological school should be the writing 
or preparing a sermon, and homiletics should follow 
— not precede. 

All languages should be learned as we learn our 
own language — not through grammars or diction- 
aries, but through conversation and reading, the 
grammars and dictionaries being reserved for a more 
advanced stage of investigation and for reference, 
just as in the language in which we were born. 
Grammars, dictionaries, and' didactic teaching are for 
experts ; only those who are already scholars should 
use them. That the system of putting grammars 
and dictionaries last instead of first, is possible and 


practicable, has been and is now being demonstrated 
in our country. The best and cheapest method of 
studying geography is to travel, and it would be 
much cheaper than to spend years in school. When 
my little daughter asks me where a certain place is 
I reply, " Wait a little and perhaps we will go and 
see." Thus she has travelled with her parents a 
distance nearly equal to the circumference of the 
globe, and it costs less than to send her to a fash- 
ionable seminary. Fortunately, very little geography 
is worth knowing or remembering, except as gener- 
alities, and that little can be taught to those who 
cannot travel, by maps and blocks and other appeals 
to the senses. I applaud the English because they 
boast of their ignorance of American geography ; 
of what worth to them, of what worth to most of 
us whether Montana be in California, or Alaska 
be or be not the capital of Arizona ? 

The system of instruction by lectures and recita- 
tions is unpsychological as well as costly and weari- 
some to teacher and learner. Of the two, recita- 
tions are the least extravagant and unsatisfactory. 
But both methods of education are out of harmony 
with the laws of the mind, and, in the universities 
of Great Britain both these methods are in a degree 
displaced by a system which may be conducted in 
harmony with psychology ; that is, private tutelage. 
The Harvard professor who says, or used to say, 


that when students entered his room his desire 
was, not to find out what they knew but what they 
did not know, ought to have been born in the 
twentieth century, and possibly in the thirtieth, for 
his philosophy is so sound and so well grounded 
psychology that he cannot hope to have it either 
received or comprehended in his lifetime ; and the 
innovation that Hafvard has just promised, of hav- 
ing the teacher recite and the pupils ask the ques- 
tions, is one of the few gleams of light in the great 
darkness by which this whole subject of education 
has been enveloped. 

The universal habit of lecturing, which is so 
common in Germany, is one which the world ought 
to slowly outgrow. 

Lectures, except they be of a clinical sort, in 
which appeals are made to the senses, cost so much 
in nerve-force, in those that listen to them, that 
the world cannot miach longer afford to indulge in 
them ; and the information they give is of a most 
unsatisfactory sort, since questioning, and interrup- 
tion, and repetition, and reviewing are scarcely pos- 
sible ; whence it is, that what one derives from lis- 
tening to lectures is not so much knowledge as a 
suspicion of knowledge. The human brain is too 
feeble and limited an organ to catch a new idea 
when first stated, and if the idea be not new it is 
useless to state it. 


One of the pleasantest memories in my life, is 
tliat, during my medical education, I did not attend 
one lecture out of twelve — save those of a clinical 
sort — that were delivered (brilliant and able as 
some of them were) in the college where I studied, 
and my regret is, that the poverty of medical 
literature at that time compelled me to attend even 
those. All the long lectures in my academical 
course at the college were useful to me — and I 
think were useful to all my classmates — only by 
enforcing the necessity, and inspiring the habit of 
enduring passively and patiently what we know 
to be in all respects painful and pernicious, provid- 
ing we have no remedy. It is by reading and con- 
stant reviewing, by having our teachers recite to 
us ; by conversing informally with those who know 
more than we, by writing — above all, by seeing, and 
hearing, and tasting, and smelling, and touching, 
and by reflecting on what we see and hear, and 
taste, and smell, and touch, that we become truly 
wise. Work of this kind is healthful, as well as 
inspiring, and favors longevity ; it is economical, and 
makes it possible for us to become learned without 
becoming nervous bankrupts. 

The hardest worker, in the best modes of work, 
and one of the healthiest men I ever knew, is 
Edison, whose perfect method of intellectual activity 
makes it safe for him to break almost every known 


law of liealtli. Original thinkers and discoverers, 
and writers are objects of increasing worry on the 
part of their relatives and friends, lest they break 
down from overwork ; whereas, it is not so much 
these great thinkers as the young school-girl or 
bank clerk that needs our sympathy. 

In my own experience I have had a remarkable 
opportunity to test the value of the sense of sight 
as a means of scientific and popular instruction. 
For years I have been writing and lecturing on the 
subject of trance — which, next to evolution, is the 
great scientific problem of the century, as is now 
beginning to be understood by scientific men all over 
the world — without obtaining any evidence of intel- 
ligent interest except with a limited body of experts 
in psychology ; and I liad questioned whether it 
would ever be possible, in my life time, to obtain any 
scientific or popular recognition of the importance of 
this subject ; but, during the past year, I tried the 
experiment of giving, before the New York Acade- 
my of Sciences, a lecture on trance, illustrated by 
large numbers of experiments of various kinds on liv- 
ing human beings. The theory and philosophy ad- 
vanced in that lecture, and very many of the facts 
also, had been presented by me years before, in that 
same hall, and before some of the same audience, 
without exciting even a flash of interest; but these 
experiments, made before the eyes, on living human 


beings, aroused an enthusiasm which has not yet 
died away, but has developed Avhat would apjDear 
to be a permanent and enduring interest in thie 
fascinating and important realm of scientific study- 
It was, so to speak, an experiment in psychological 
object teaching, quite uncongenial to my own taste, 
as I would have much preferred to give the facts, 
theories, and philosophies without any experiments. 

The experience was to me, most instructive and 
important in its relation to the subject here under 
review; it was a potent demonstration of the fact 
that the eye is the widest and most accessible of all 
the avenues that open to the brain. 

More worthy of note is this experience from 
this; that the lectures were given before scientific 
audiences whose intellects were supposed to be 
trained to thinking and to following logical proces- 
ses. In England during the last summer, I attempt- 
ed, without any human beings on whom to experi- 
ment, to explain some of the theories and philoso- 
phies of trance before an audience composed of the 
very best physiologists and psychologists of Europe, 
and with no l»otter success than at home. If I had 
had but one out of the twenty or thirty cases on 
whom I have lately experimented, to illustrate and en- 
force my views, there would have been, I am sure, no 
difiiculty in making clear not only the facts, but what 
is of chief importance, the interpretation of the facts. 


Competitive Examinations. 

Modern competitive examinations are but slightly 
in advance of the system of recitations and lectures. 
They seem to liave been invented by some one who 
wished to torture rather than benefit mankind, and 
whose philosophy was, that whatever is disagree- 
able is useful, and that the temporary accumulation 
of facts is true wisdom, and an accurate measure of 
cerebral force. Crammed-knowledge is ignorance; in 
Montaigne's words, " Knowing by heart is not know- 
ing ; " the greatest fool may often pass the best ex- 
amination ; no wise man can always tell what he 
knows ; ideas come by suggestion rather than by 
order; you must wait for their appearing at their 
own time and not at ours ; we may be ready to 
slioot them when they fly, like birds on the wing, 
but we cannot tell when they will rise ; he who 
can always tell what he knows, knows little worth 

Recent Improvement in the American Physique. 

Herein is the partial, though not the entire elu- 
cidation of the observed fact that, during the last 
two decades, the well-to-do classes of America have 
been visibly growing stronger, fuller, healthier. "We 
weigh more than our fathers ; the women in all our 
great centres of population are yearly becoming 
more plump and more beautiful ; and in the lead- 


ing brain-working occupations our men also "are ac- 
quiring robustness, amplitude, quantity of being. 
On all sides there is a visible reversion to the bet- 
ter physical appearance of our English and G-erinan 
ancestors. A thousand girls and boys, a thousa"" 
men in the prime of years, taken by accident in 
any of our large cities, are heavier and more sub- 
stantial than were the same number of the same 
age and walk of life twenty-five years ago. 

Many years of careful study of the physical ap- 
pearance of our higher classes, in those places where 
representative types from all parts of the country 
are constantly seen — in our leading churches and 
concert halls, on Fifth Avenue and Broadway — 
have convinced me long ago that the combined in- 
fluences of wealth and culture, of better manners 
and better diet, are already bringing fulness and 
freshness to the angular cheek of the traditional 
Yankee; the American race is filling out; the next 
generation, as the experience of the late war gives 
us reason to hope, may equal our European ances- 
tors in strength, in solidity, and endurance, as our 
women have long surpassed them in personal at- 
tractiveness and beauty. 

This improvement in the physique of the Amer- 
icans of the most favored classes during the last 
quarter of a century is a fact more and mofe com- 
pelling the inspection both of the physician and the 


sociologist. Of old it was said that the choicest 
samples of manly form were to be found in the 
busy hours of the Exchange at Liverpool ; their 
equals, at least, now walk Broadway and Fifth Av- 
enue. The one need for the perfection of the beauty 
of the American women — increase of fat — is now 

It could not, in fact, be different, for we have 
better homes, more suitable clothing, less anxiety, 
greater ease, and more variety of healthful activity 
than even the best situated of our immediate an- 
cestors. So inevitable was this result, that had it 
been otherwise, one might well suspect that the law 
of causation had been suspended. 

The first signs of ascension, as of declension, in 
nations are seen in women. As the foliage of deli- 
cate plants first show the early warmth of spring 
and the earliest frosts of autumn, so the impressible, 
susceptive organization of woman appreciates and 
exhibits far sooner than that of man the manifesta- 
tions of national progress or decay. 

ISTot long since I had occasion to take a train at 
Providence on my way to Eoston. It was a very 
stormy morning, and I was surprised to see a large 
number of ladies in the cars. I observed that the 
majority of them were, if not handsome, at least 
strong and vigorous, as though they lived well, and 
were equal to a long walk or, if necessary, a hard 


day's work. Still further, I noticed that many of 
tliem were of an intellectual cast of feature ; vari- 
ous ages were represented, but nearly all were ma- 
ture. On inquiring what had called out such a host 
of brave females on so disagreeable a day, I learned 
that a Woman's Congress had just closed its sessions 
in Providence, and that the members were returning 
to their homes. On sirbsequently reading the re- 
ports of the congress, as published in the Provi- 
dence papers, I was both interested and mildly sur- 
prised to find that the essays were of a far higher 
order in topics and in treatment than I had been 
accustomed to expect in organizations sustained 
wholly by women ; the subjects selected being more 
closely related to science, in its various branches, 
and the discussions were carried on in the scientific 
spirit; far less was said of politics, and far more of 
what requires higher and broader intellect than jdoI- 
itics — the difiicult and complex problems of psych- 
ology, physiology, sociology, and educational reform. 
A well-trained intellect is itself medicine and 
hygiene, enabling its possessor to guard successfully 
against the appeals of passion and the storms of 
emotion, keeping the mind constantly supplied with 
the fresh and varied material for thought and 
action, and rendering the avoidance of exhausting 
pleasures at once spontaneoiis and intelligent. The 
nervous female patients of our time do not come 


from the most inte]lectual of the sex. The pio- 
neers in feminine development are often sturdy and 
patient of physical and mental toil — capable of en- 
during the fatigue of travel, of public speaking,- ot 
literary and philanthropic activity; and if, like 
George Eliot, of a sensitive frame, yet able to keep 
themselves out of helpless invalidism and in fair 
working order. 

This improvement in the physical appearance of 
our women is not equally distributed through all 
classes, nor has it reached all sections. The late 
Centennial gave an unusual opportunity to study 
American physique such as we have not had for a 
century, since there it was possible to see, on any 
day, every phase of American society, and from 
every State. It was observed that the women from 
many distant country places represented, in size, color, 
and features, the type that twenty-five years ago was 
national, almost universal ; the wave of physical im- 
provement had not yet reached their class of neigh- 
borhood ; they were thin, angular, stooping, anxious, 
pale, and, in not a few cases, emaciated. The wives 
and daugliters of farmers are often in some respects 
less favored hygienically than the fashionable classes 
of our great cities ; they give far too little thought 
and care to the preparation and mastication of food ; 
they labor oftentimes out of proportion to their 
strength, and, in want of temptation to walk out 


or even to ride during inclement seasons, really 
suffer more from confinement in excessively heated 
rooms than their sisters in city or town or village. 

American inventions are now assisting botli 
American men and American women to diminisli 
their nervousness ; palace cars and elevators and 
sewing machines are types of recent improvements 
that help to diminisli the friction of modern life. 
Formerly inventors increased the friction of our 
lives and made us nervous. 

Oerin(mization of America. 

The Germanization of America — by which I 
mean the introduction through very extensive im- 
migration, of German habits and character — is a 
phenomenon which can now be observed, even by 
the dullest and nearest-sighted, in the large cities 
of the Northern portion of our country. As the 
Germans in their temperament are the opposite of 
the native Americans, this process promises to be in 
all respects beneficial, encouraging in every way 
out-door life and amusements, tending to displace 
pernicious whiskey by less pernicious beer and wine, 
setting the example of coolness and calmness, which 
the nervously exhausted American very much needs. 
Quite true it is that the second and third genera- 
tions of Germans do themselves become Ameri- 
canized, through the effects of climate and the 


contagion of our institutions; but the pressure oi 
immigration jDrovides, every year, a supply of phieg- 
niatic temperament. 

America of tlie past has been but England in a 
minor key. All that is good, all that is evil in the 
United States has come directly and mainly from 
Great Britain — the daughter is but a mild type of 
the mother. In the angry and inexpert discussions 
of national characteristics, it is forgotten that the 
difference between one country and the other is far 
less than is suggested or commonly alleged. We 
have been all English in our conservatism, a quality 
which has increased in proportion as we have 
gained anything of wealth or character or any mani- 
festation of force whatsoever, that is wortli pre- 
serving. To supplement the Anglican by Grerman 
characteristics is a process to be developed during 
the coming half century. 

AmericaniBation of Europe. 

Observations in both continents bring into view 
another process, that is of supreme import in its 
relation to the future of mankind, the American- 
ization of Europe. That Americans were more rapid 
in their movements, more intense in their whole 
life, and concentrated more activity in a certain 
period of time tlian any otlier people, has been the 
faith uf all travellers, and this belief has a founda- 


tion of reality ; but in Europe at least, and to a less 
degree in Continental Europe, we now observe, the 
same eagerness, intensity, concentration, feverishness, 
and nervousness that have hitherto been supposed 
to be peculiarly American. 

Particularly was I amazed by this when I was 
in Cork and Cambridge, attending meetings of the 
British Medical Association. The labor of a month 
was compressed into a week. Every one was in 
haste ■ — officers and members having only bits of 
time to breathe or speak ; a procession of suppers, 
breakfasts, balls, banquets, scientific oi-ations, garden- 
parties, and excursions at every point of the com- 
pass, crowded so closely as to tread upon each 
other's heels ; after such a vacation one needed a 
vacation. At no gathering outside of political 
assemblages in America have I seen such excite- 
ment, such hurryings, such impatience, such evi- 
dences of imminent responsibility as among the 
leaders and officers of these meetings. 

This Americanization of Europe would seem to 
be the complex resultant of a variety of influences 
— the increase of travel and trade, and concenti-a- 
tion, and intensifying of activity required by the 
telegraph, railway, and printing-press — the endos- 
mosis and exosmosis of international life — a reci- 
procity of character. It is clear that even in Europe 
each generation, becomes on the whole rather more 


sensitive than its predecessor, and in this patlio- 
logical process even Germany shares ; Switzerland, 
perhaps, being less affected np to the present time 
tlian almost any other part of Central Europe. 

The nervousness of the third generation of Ger- 
mans is a fact that comes to my professional notice 
more and more. Men whose parents on both sides 
were born in Germany, here develop the American 
type in all its details — chiselled features, great 
fineness and silkiness of the hair, delicacy of skin 
and tapering extremities. Such persons have con- 
sulted me for all phases and stages of functional 
nervous trouble. Indeed, I have seen no more 
severe examples of nervous suffering than in this 
class. Englishmen, even those who were born in 
England, develop either in their own country, or 
in this, the land of their adoption, many of the 
prominent symptoms of functional nervous diseases 
that are supposed to be especially and pre-eminently 
American. Quite a percentage of my patients are 
of German and English birth. I am told by one 
of the leaders of German science, Professor Erb, 
of Leipsic, whose opportunities for getting facts 
on this theme are exceptionally good, and whose 
capacity for observing and for reasoning justly from 
his observations is very great, that in nearly all 
parts of Germany there can be found at the present 
day, and that too without very much seeking, cases 


of functional nervous disease in all respects the 
types of what we see in America; and that there 
has been an increase in these disorders. Within 
less than nine months after the publication of my 
work on Xervous Exhaustion, two independent 
reqixests for authoi'ity to translate it into German 
were made of me and my publishers by German 
physicians ; this could not probably have happened 
if the disease were not increasing in Germany. 
Even Irishmen born in this land or brought here 
early are not entirely safe from the chances of ner- 
vous contagion. 

The increasing fluency of speech among English 
oi'ators is, perhaps, one of the best of all the proofs 
of the Americanization of Europe. Not only are the 
" ha, ha's," of which so mirch sport was once made, 
heard much less frequently than formerly in public 
meetings, but there is a positi'^'e ease and attrac- 
tiveness to very many of the English speakers in 
and out of Parliament, in the pulpit and on the 
platform, that is thoroughly American ; and this 
is noticeable, not only among orators of renown, 
like Gladstone or Bright, but in many who are in 
no wise famous. 

"While I was in London, during the last year, 
the House of Commons spent a good portion of a 
session in recapitulating, to the excessive amuse- 
ment of readers and listeners, the amount of talk- 


ing that had been done by both sides. By this 
inquiry — which was inaugurated by the Marquis 
of Hartington — it was proved that if all the speak- 
ers continued to sj^eak as often and as elaborately 
as they had been speaking, a number of years would 
be required before they could adjourn. 

This difficulty, American legislative bodies have 
long recognized ; but only lately has it become a 
matter of formal investigation in Parliament ; but 
outside of Parliament — at public banquets, and on all 
occasions where oratory is required, there is no more 
fluent or attractive speaking than in Great Britain 
to-day. Great Britain has long had great orators 
— excelled by none of any modern nation, but this 
universal and widely diffused alertness and facility 
of speech, the contemplation of which kept Carlyle 
in a dolorous growl and ferment, is a late develop- 

The Omnistio Philosophy applied to this siibject. 

It is a j^art of the omnistic philosophy — and 
by omnistic philosophy I mean that which includes 
optimism on the one hand, and pessimism on the 
other, and makes the best of both — to see simul- 
taneously the redeeming and the destroying forces 
of society ; to study them with a single eye in 
their relation to each other. 

Applying the omnistic philosophy to our sub- 


jeet, we find that the American people are not 
coming to complete and immediate overthrow ; the 
forces that renovate and save are mightier far than 
the forces that emasculate and destroy. 
^ Although mental friction is the most fruitful of 
all causes of nervousness, yet intellectual activity 
in the serene realms, is an antidote and a modifier 
of nervousness and other diseases. ) 

It is not a dream to predict that, under the in- 
spiration of the scientific sense, the last and best 
expression of the evolution of mind, there shall 
be developed on this continent a higher order of 
humanity from which shall be developed what the 
world, thus far, has never seen, a limited number 
of philosophers who, in all the eternal problems, 
shall think for themselves, as though the gods were 
blind, and they were alone upon their footstool. 
/ The American race, it is said, is dying out ; but 
there is no American race. Americans are the 
union of European races and peoples, as lakes are 
fed by many streams, and can only disappear with 
the exhaustion of its sources. Europe must die 
before America. In sections of Ameiica, as in New 
England, and in large cities, the number of chil- 
dren to a family in certain classes is too small for 
increase of population; but these classes are a mi- 
nority in society, and immigration is as certain 
as the future. Malthus forgot that the tendency 


of all evil is, in a certain degree, to cure itself ; tlie 
poison and the antidote being rooted in the same 

The typical American of the highest type will, 
in the near future, be a union of the coarse and the 
fine organizations ; the solidity of the German, the 
fire of the Saxon, the delicacy of the American, 
flowing together as one — sensitive, impressible, read- 
ily affected through all the avenues of influence, 
but trained and held by a will of steel; original, 
idiosyncratic ; learned in this — that he knows what 
not to know, laborious in knowing what not to do • 
with more of wiriness than of excess of strength, 
and achieving his purposes not so much through the 
amount of his force as in wisdom and economy of 
its use. 


Agb, compensations of, 253. 

Age to work, relation of, 193. 

Air, dryness of, 143. 

America compared witli Japan, climate of, 161. 

Trance in, 88. 
American beauty, 66. 

climate, differences in, 163. 

vs. English beauty, 68. 

female beauty, 08. 

liumor, philosophy of, 83. 

Indians, health of, 183. 

language, 84. 

muscle-reading, 73. . 

nervousness, causes of, 96. 
signs of, 18. 

oratory, relation of, 80. 

people, physical future of, 393. 

physique, recent improvement in, 334. 
Americanization of Europe, 340. 
Americans moderate eaters, 44. 
Ancient and modem world, comparative size of, 133. 
Animal life in America, intensity of, 95. 
Anxiety and insanity, 138. 
Athens, contrasted life in, 135. 
Australia, 193. 

Baldness, 53. 
Bankruptcy, nervous, 9. 
Beauty to nervousness, relation of, 65. 
Biographies consulted, 330. 
Brain-workers have less worry, 303. 
liave more comfort, 304. 

348 INDEX. 

Brain-workers, longevity of, 193. 

old age easier in, 308. 
Bright's disease, 60. 
Business m modem times, increase in amount of, 115. 

Cataeehs, chronic, 61. 

Causes of longevity of clergymen, 373. 

Childhood and old age but imitators, 230. 

China, opium eating in, 180. 

Chorographic map of the United States, 158. 

Clergymen, longevity of, 380. 

Climate and race, 173. 

Climates contrasted, 166, 

heat and cold, 188, 
Civilization and nervousness, 176. 

modern, 171. 
Cold, sensitiveness to, 54. 
Compensations of age, 253. 
Consolations for the nervous, 375. 

Debility cycles of, 283. 
Dentition, puberty, and change of life, 75. 
Diabetes, Bright's disease and, 60. 
Diathesis, nervous, 25. 
Digestion, sensitiveness of, 43. 
Disease, change in, 90. 
Drugs, habit of taking, 64. 
sensitiveness to, 39. 
Dryness and electricity, 146. 

East and West, comparative physique of, 191, 
Education, reconstruction of, 311. 

of the future, 316. 

why behind, 312. 
Electric light, analogy of, 98. 
Electricity, dryness and, 146. 
Elevated road, New York, 110. 
Emotion, repression of, 120. 
England, moisture of, 153. 
England, no summer in, 140. 


Englisli vs. American drinking, 33 

drinking capacity, 34. 

female beauty, 08. 

out-door life of, 154. 

winter, mildness of, 142. 
Evidence, principles of, 19. 
Examinations, competitive, 334. 
Exciting causes of nervousness, 174. 
Eye disease, tobacco and, 178. 
Eyes, vpeak, 41. 

Force in reserve needed, 13. 
Forethought, evils of, 180. 
Functional diseases not fatal, 33. 
Future of the American people, 293. 

Germanization of America, 889. 
Golden decade, the, 834. 

Heat and cold, extremes of, 138. 

sensitiveness to, 53. 
Humor and nervousneiss, 82. 

Indians, health and habits of, 181. 

indifference of, 133. 
Inebriety, 88. 

a type of all diseases of its class, 

defined,' 306. 
Insanity and anxiety, 128. 

Japan, climate of, 163. 
Jumpers, of Maine, 4. 
Longevity vs. nervousness, 24. 

of clergymen, 380. 

comparative, 200. 

nervousness favors, 300. 
Language, nervousness and, 85. 

Maine Jumpers, 4. 
Medicines, sensitiveness to, 64. 

350 INDEX. 

Modern civilization, 171. 

world, activity of, 134. 
Moral decline in old age, 247. 
Muscular exercise, increased susceptibility to, 309. 
Myopia (near-siglitedness), 40. 


and weakness of the eyes, increase of, 44. 
Negroes, a study of, 188. 
Nerve-force, lack of, 5. 
Nerves, and noise, 106. 
Nervous bankruptcy, 9. 
Nervous, consolation for the, 375. 

diathesis, the, 173. 

increase of, 25. 
Nervous diseases, recent progress in, 289. 

increase of diseases not distinctively, 59. 

prospective increase of, 305. 
Nervous exhaustion (neurasthenia), 55. 

symptoms of, 8. 
Nervousness and civilization, 176. 

a constant warning, 285. 

distinguished from organic disease, 15. 

dry air causes, 149. 

evolution of, 55. 

humor and, 82. 

increased by inheritance, 94. 

inheritance of, 94. 

is nervelessness, 5. 

language and, 85. 

liberty and, 122. 
Nervousness favors longevity, 206. 

nature and deiinition of, 1. 

natural history of, 281. 

oratoiy and, 80. 

railway travelling and, 114. 

to indigestion, relation of, 40. 

to beauty, relation of, 65. 

to dress, relation of, 73. 

vs. longevity, 34. 

INDEX. 351 

•Neurasthenia (nervous exhaustion), 55. 

JS'ew York, contrasted life in, 135. 

Noise, nerves and, 106. 

Nose and throat, catarrh of, 63. 

Nursing, parturition, diseases of women, 76. 

Odoes, disagreeable, 108. 

Old age and childhood, but imitators, 230. 

healthy, 388. 

imitates itself, 230. 

moral decline in, 249. 

of artists, 338. 
Omnistic, philosophy applied, 344. 
Opium habit, 308. 
Oratory, nervousness and, 80. 

Organic disease, distinguished from nervousness, 15. 
Original vs. routine work, 314. 

Paetukition and nursing, 76. 

Perineum and womb, lacerations of, 78. 

Premature baldness, 52. 

Philosophy, omnistic, 344. 

Poverty and wealth, health related to, 393. 

Precocity, morbid, 361. 

Precocious, longevity of the, 355. 

Professions, longevity of, 255. 

Protestantism, 126. 

Puberty, dentition, and change of life, 75. 

Punctuality, necessity of, 103. 

Quantity of business increased, 116. 

Race and climate, 173. 

Railway travelling, 112. 

Rocky Mountain region, 144. 

Routine work and original, distinction between, 225. 

Satages, diseases of, 91. 
Sensitiveness to drugs, 39. 
Smoking, 38. 
Specialization, necessary evils of, IQl. 

352 INDEX. 

Speech, rapidity of, 87. 

Sorrow, increased, 118. 

Soutliern climate, caprice of, 168. 

South, less nervousness, 160, 

Statistics of little value, 30. 

Steam-eugine, analogy of, 100. 

Stimulants and narcotics, susceptibility to, 30. 

Symptoms of nervous exhaustion, 8. 

Syphilis growing milder, 94. 

Tbeth, early and rapid decay of, 48. 

of savages, 50. 
Telegraph, the, 105. 
Temperance, a modern virtue, 36. 
Thirstlessness, indigestion, 40. 
Tliroai and nose, catarrh of, 63. 
Tobacco and eye disease, 178. 
Trance in America, greater susceptibility to, 88. 
Treatment of nervous diseases, recent progress in, 389. 

Voice, pitch of, 87. 

Weak eyes, 44. 

West, nervousness in, 164. 

Woman in savage state, 184. 

Womb and perineum, lacerations of, 78. 

Women, diseases of, 73. 

parturition, nursing, 76. 

Works by George M. Beard, M.D. 

AMERICAN NERVOUSNESS; Its Causes and Conse- 
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A SICKNESS; Its Nature 1 

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STIMULANTS AND NARCiOTICS. 4th Edition. i2mo. 
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CONSTANTINOPLE. By Edmundo de Amicis, author of "A Journey 
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THE GREEKS OF TO-DAY. By Hon. Charles K. Tuckerman, 
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This work attracted special attention at the time of its publication, in 1872, as giving 
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Compendium of Histology. Twenty-four Lectures. By Professor 
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UNBEATEN TRACKS IN JAPAN. An account of Travels en 
Horseback in the Interior. By IsabellyV L. Bird. 2 vols. Svo, 
Illustrations and maps. . . $5 00 

" Of Miss Bird's fascinating and instructive volumes it is impossible to speak 
in terms of too Jiij^h praise. They fully maintain the well-earned reputation of the 
author of ' Six Months in the Sandwich Islands' and ^ A Lady's Life in the Rocky 
Mountains' as a traveller of the first order, and a graphic and picturesque writer. 
The title she has chosen for her new book is no misnomer. Few foreia;ners, even of 
the stronger sex, would have had the courage and perseverance to face and surmount 
the obstacles which a frail woman in ill health, accompanied only by a single native 
servant, encountered in her cross-countr}'' wanderings. But Miss Birdisa born travel- 
ler, fearless, enthusiastic, patient, instructed, knowing as well what as how to describe. 
No peril daunts her, no prospect of fatigue or discomfort disheartens or repels her." — 
Qttarterly Review^ October, 1880. 

'' Miss Bird is one of the most remarkable travellers of our day. Penetrating 
into regions wholly unknown Ly the outside world, she has accomplished, by the 
force of an indomitable will, aided by great tact and shrewdness, a task to which few 
men would have been found equal; and she has brought away from the scene oX her 
researches not only a lively tale of adventure, but a great store of fresh and interest- 
ing information about the character and habits of a people now undergoing one of the 
strangest transformations the world has ever seen. We doubt whether the inner life 
of Japan has ever been better described than in the pregnant pages of this pertinacious 
Englishwoman." — N. Y. Daily Tribune. 

'' Beyond question, the most valuable and the most interesting of recent books 
concerning Japanese travel. * ^ * one of the most profitable of recent travel 
records."— iV. Y, Evening Post. 

'^ One of the most readable books of travel of the day." — N. Y. Daily Times, 

" Miss Bird has given us what to-dav must be regarded as the best work on 
Japan."— A^. Y. Herald. 

'' But it is in descriptions of men and manners that she excels, and in these she 
is so excellent that in no other book in English is there anything like so vivid a picture 
as she gives of the Japanese people." — N. Y. ll^orld. 

*'■ Her graphic power, her literary skill, and surprising freshness of material, 
especially in the second volume, make this book one of the very best, and as a work 
of travels the best, in the library of books relating to Japan."— Rev. Wm. E. Griffis, 
in the N. Y. hidt-pendent. 

"• Her narrative is one of intense interest -!= * * forms a thoroughly valuable 
and desirable addition to any \\\iX'dSY.'"—Congregaiionalisi. 

'' Miss Bird's book is f iscinating throughout." — The American^ Philadelphia. 

'^ She draws out the story of the homely, everyday life in Japan as it has never 
before been presented." — The Republican^ Springfield, Mass. 

"'' Japan ib truly a wonderful country ''■• =i- * who follows Miss Bird ia its 
unbeaten Iracks will be not only interested, but delighted and almost enchanted. 
* * * she has told us more about the country, its history, its literature, its busines*;, 
and the habits, thoughts, and customs of the people, than we might learn from forty 
ordinary books on Japan * * * a remarkably good book * ■'■ * it is brtmful 
ofinformation, much of which has never ccne under our eye before."— i?(?.r/<?« Tost. 

'' We do not hesitate to say that 01 all the books of Japanese travels which we 
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— Louisville Courier-'yoti.rnal. 

" Among the works of travellers, relating to this country, we are inclined to 
rank ' LTr.beaten Tracks in Japan ' as perhaps the best. * '■' * In all respects it is 
a sensible, useful work."- Troy Daily Times. 

" A minute account of the interior of Japan. ' =^ ^ on nearly every page 
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Jap.-u U the freshest and most satisfactory of any which has yet been given to the 
public,"— 5aM Francisco Evening Duiietin. 


A History of American Literature. By Moses Coit Tyler, Pro- 
fessor of English Literature in the University of Michigan. Voluir.cs 
I and II, comprising the period, 1607-1765. Large 8vo, about 700 
pages, handsomely bound in cloth, extra, gilt top, $6.00 ; half calf, 
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The History of American Literature, now offered to the public, is the first at- 
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analysis of American literary forces and results during nearly three centuries. The 

E resent two volumes— a complete work in themselves — cover the whole field of our 
istory during the colonial time. 

" An important national vvork." — New York Tribune. 

" The literary event of the decade."— //ar^/t??-.^ Courant. 

" A book more interesting than half the new novels."— 7"^^ Nation. 

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" One of the most valuable publications of the century." — Boston Post. 

" A book actually fascinating from beginning to end. — Prest. J. B. Angell. 

" Asthe work stands, it may rightfully claim a place on the library table of every 
cultivated American." — Neiv York Times. 

"■No work of similar scope and magnitude and erudition exists, or has been at- 
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" A unique and valuable work " — Chicago Tribune. 

^' A work which will rank with those of Sismondi, Ticknor, and Taine.'' — New 
York Evening Express. 

" It is this philosophical character of the work which brings it not far distant from 
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'' One can hardly speak too strongly in praise of these conscientious, careful and 
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Henry Martyn Dexter^ D.D. 

'' But the plan of Professor Tyler's book is so vast and its execution so fearless, 
that no reader can expect or wish to a^ree wich all its personal judgments. It is a book 
truly admirable, botn. in design and in general execution ; the learning is great, the 
treatment wise, the style fresh and vigorous. Mere and there occurs a phrase which a 
severer revision would jierhaps exclude, but all such criticisms are trivial in view of so 
signal a success. Like Parkman, Professor Tyler may almost be said to have created, 
not merely his volumes, but their theme. Like Parkman, at any rate, he has taken r 
whole department of human history, rescued it from oblivion, and made it hencefor- 
ward a matter of deep interest to every thinking mind." — T. W. -Higginson, in Tfu 

"The work betrays acute philosophical insight, a rare power of historical re- 
search, and a cultivated literary habit, which was perhaps no less essential than th 
two former conditions, to its successful accomplishment. The style of the author i. 
marked by vigor, originality, comprehensiveness, and a curious instinct in the selectio;. 
of words. In this latter respect, though not in the moulding of sentences, the reade, 
may perhaps be reminded of the choice and fragrant vocabulary of Washington Irving, 
whose words alone often leave an exquisite odor like the perfume of sweet-briar anc. 
arbutus." — GEriRCE Ripley, in the Tribune. 

*' Professor Moses Coit Tyler's '"History of American Literature,' of which the 
first two volumes have just been issued, will take rank at once as a book of lasting 
value, even though the author should advance no lurther than he has already done in 
the scheme of his work. We are not unmindful of the eminent historians this country 
has produced, when we express our opinion that his history is the best study of Ameru 
can historic material that has been written by an American. There has been manifestly 
no limit to the enthusiasm, conscientiousness and industry' with which he has possessed 
himself ot the entire body of the literature of which he treats, and at the same time he 
has displayed the qualities of a tr:ie literary artist in giving form, color and persnective 
to his work." — David Gray, in the Buffalo Courier.